EDITORIAL: No solutio0n in sight in Egypt
That the ouster of Egypt’s first democratically elected President Mohammad Morsi was a military coup should not be debatable. Subsequent developments however confirm the view that though the majority party governs, the army always rules.
It is also testimony to the failure of the first phase of the tenuous nature of Egypt’s spontaneous revolution that coalesced around one narrow issue and morphed into a movement without clear leadership or well defined objectives. In the end, it could not rise above narrow sectarian concerns to build a firm foundation for a new republic.
The forcible removal of an elected president should have been avoided. The liberal opposition could have eased popular anger by demanding Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood make some concessions until legislative elections, which had been set for later this year.
Tragically, it has been difficult to unite Arab countries during the era of independence and afterward. From the horn of Africa to the Gulf they have rarely agreed on anything, and the politics of violence and exclusion has been a depressingly constant feature of life in that region.
When the Arab world finally received a much needed shake-up some two and a half years ago, the term democracy was often cited by the masses of people who took to the streets as part of the wave of “Arab Spring” popular uprisings.
However, few countries in the region have the cultural background or history to prepare them for moving directly to a democratic system, after decades of dictatorship. In addition, their educational systems are of little help in facilitating this transition.
The tumultuous events in Egypt and Tunisia have drawn the attention of many people in the region and the rest of the world to the frailty of these uprisings without the necessary infrastructural and institutional support to facilitate genuine democratic transition.
One aspect of the problem is the surreal nature of the latest charges against ousted President Morsi. He is being questioned about his links with the Palestinian movement Hamas during the daring jail break during the collapsing regime of former President Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
The question is why it took so long to discover the possibility that Morsi was involved in something illegal, especially after his sudden ouster. It’s the kind of retroactive justice that carries no benefit for Egypt.
Past mistakes should teach Egyptians that a successful democratic transition demands broad popular legitimacy united around an accepted set of principles and institutions. Instead, the constitutional process ended up polarizing society along sectarian lines, and electing a president with full powers before a new constitution was adopted.
Consequently, Morsi’s motives were seen as consolidating power rather than producing a genuinely inclusive constitution, approved by 64 per cent of voters in a referendum, but with a turnout of just 33 per cent.
It is now doubtful whether Egypt’s democratic transition could still succeed if all parties stand their ground without seeking consensus.