The run-up to the this weekend’s voting was clouded by the ruling of the Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC) last week that a) declared unconstitutional the Political Isolation Law, an existing rule that had prevented former Mubarak regime members from standing for election to the Parliament or the presidency and b) by operation of that rule in earlier parliamentary voting, declared the sitting Parliament likewise unconstitutional and null. The country’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) acted quickly on the SCC decision, blocking access to the Parliament building to certain sitting MPs and by issuing their own addendum to the earlier Constitutional declaration. This addendum, among other rules, declares that the SCC can swear in the new President in the absence of the Parliament, that SCAF will maintain its current form and membership regardless of who becomes President, transfers broad military authority away from the President to SCAF itself and grants SCAF, and the SCC, control over the results of the upcoming Constitutional Assembly. Egyptian, and international, constitutional scholars have described the announcement as simply a military coup. This series of events have been greeted in a multitude of ways in a nation worn down by revolution, counter-revolution, military dictatorship and false hope. The April 6th Youth Movement, themselves seen as the instigators of the January 25, 2011 revolution, have congratulated Mursi on his victory, and pledged to support him, provided he protects the civil state. Noting that the revolution is not over, Ahmed Maher, the movement’s founder, called for unity against the SCAF, noting that the organization was “ready to start new battles for the sake of a democratic nation.” The acting Pope of the Coptic Church has likewise congratulated Mursi and reiterated that it is not opposed to his Presidency, provided that it gave Egypt the opportunity to move forward. “We ought to give the winner the chance to rebuild the country,” the Pope’s spokesman was quoted as saying.
Writing before the beginning of voting this weekend, Egyptian journalist Wael Eskandar opined that the end result of SCAF’s actions would be nothing more than a military dictatorship led by an unstoppable force. He accused the Muslim Brotherhood of squandering the strength and momentum of the revolution in favor of “a short-lived existence in an impotent parliament.” More optimistically, however, Gigi Ibrahim, herself a figure in the revolution, saw this series of events as inevitable. “History tells us too soon that elections are always used to bury revolutions,” she wrote. She cited her socialist roots and called for renewed organization of the revolution against SCAF. She highlighted that the revolution that brought down Mubarak in 2011 had no machine, no truly organized group sufficient to solidify the goals of the revolution in the face of military rule and the entrenched regime.
Mahmoud Salem, himself once a candidate for Parliament, sees thing similarly. “[T]oday,” he writes, “concludes the end of the first chapter of the Egyptian revolution .” He argues that, in the end, neither Shafiq nor Mursi were (as many had accused) the candidate of SCAF, because regardless of who won the election, SCAF knew it held all the power and the victor would have to deal with them one way or the other. The election and resulting coup removed all revolutionary legitimacy from any of the figureheads or leaders from the last 18 months. Now is the time for new leaders to arise, put aside their “petty differences,” identify the mistakes that were made, plan on how to amend those mistakes and then step aside and let a new generation of leaders take over. This new leadership will need to confront challenges on the fronts of development, culture and politics and must realize that it is cooperation, and not unity, that will ultimately lead the revolution to success. “[T]here is no exit strategy for this mess, no quick fix solution, and no way out without serious compromises by all parties, which will not happen without political or real clashes, and won’t stop until equilibrium is reached.”
Writing in today’s al-Masri al-Youm, Ahmed Ezzat writes that the revolution needs to be more organized and to put down roots across the country in the form of public committees. “What remains of the revolution are its resolute supporters who have yet to taste victory and its pioneers who are ready to lay down their lives to free Egypt from the grip of tyrants. There is still a need for a revolutionary project to mobilize the public to achieve victory for the revolution.”
SCAF may see itself as the hero of the revolution, and the protector of the new democracy in Egypt, but it remains clear that significant voices disagree. Those voices were brave enough to stand in Tahrir Square in January 2011 against Mubarak’s police state, and they appear equally ready to brush aside the new military state and its figureheads. It would be wise of both the new President and his military minders to pay heed to those voices, because Egypt’s revolution appears far from over.By Ted Graham, Aslan Media Columnist