Tuesday, 2 July 2013

EGYPT: ''Crisis in Egypt'': Power Puzzle

Even in the face of nationwide protests and an ultimatum from the military, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi has refused to step down. But anger with his government is not likely to subside.

Disillusionment with Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt's first democratically elected president, is widespread following the past year of his rule. Results, after all, have been disastrous. Instead of freeing his country from an ongoing political and economic crisis, Morsi has deepened the suffering. Instead of bringing reconciliation to Egypt, he has sown discord. Mass protests have repeatedly shown how polarized the most populous country in the Arab world has become.

The Egyptian revolution has reached a new phase. Disappointment with Morsi and his government, but particularly with the country's economic erosion, has spread dramatically. Extraordinary circumstances helped the Muslim Brotherhood to their election victory; they were the only organized group following the fall of Mubarak. But just one year later, the shine is off.

Morsi has been unable to stop the plummeting reputation of Islamist politics, but his resignation would merely create a vacuum. The Muslim Brothers would be wise not to respond in kind to the violent destruction of their headquarters. An escalation of the violence would require the army to calm the situation. They have already issued the ultimatum.

On Monday, the Egyptian Army issued President Mohammed Morsi an ultimatum: He has 48 hours to come up with a plan for the country or it will intervene with one of its own. The tens of thousands of anti-Morsi protesters who had been demonstrating since Sunday in Tahrir Square broke out into cheers when the ultimatum was announced.

Yet Morsi has shown no indication that he is prepared to back down. On Tuesday, despite widespread dissatisfaction with his rule and a crumbling cabinet, he released a statement of his own, saying that he will continue on the course he has charted. As if to underline Morsi's increasing isolation, his foreign minister, Mohamed Kamel Amr, threw in the towel on Tuesday morning. He is the sixth member of Morsi's government to quit over the escalating crisis.

Though the army says it has no intention of involving itself in government or politics, Morsi's allies in his Muslim Brotherhood party have been holding their own rallies to show support for the embattled president and have vowed to take to the streets to stop what they say is a military coup. The army political roadmap would suspend constitution and implement an interim ruling council.

Morsi isn't to blame for all of his country's problems. The economy was already ailing before he came into office. But the president has neither ideas nor concepts. So far, Morsi has delivered nothing but vague promises, such as the pledge to restore stability and jump-start the economy within 100 days. Now, with his government crumbling around him, it seems clearer than ever that Morsi does not have what it takes to lead the country forward.

Among all of the serious mistakes committed by Egyptian President Morsi, the worst is his undemocratic interpretation of the mandate granted him by the electorate. The belief that an election victory gives the majority the right to impose its will on the minority produces that which can now be seen on the streets of Cairo: a confrontation that threatens the very foundation of the state.

The conflict becomes an existential battle in which neither side can surrender without a loss of face. That is why the orgy of violence in Cairo is much more than just an eruption of dissatisfaction. Both sides are convinced that everything is at stake.

The only way out is for Morsi to resign and for new elections to be held. But that can only happen if democracy is understood as a system whereby power is only handed out for a limited period of time -- as a power that expires when trust has disappeared and not only when an election is lost.

By Guylain Gustave Moke
Political Analyst/Writer
Investigative Journalist
African Affairs Expert

Photo-Credit: AFP: Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi