Monday, 1 July 2013

Egypt: An Ultimatum to Morsy

Yesterday, protesters gathered in Tahrir Square and outside the presidential palace in the neighborhood of Heliopolis to call for the departure of President Mohamed Morsy's administration. As evening fell in Cairo, the capital braced for demonstrations that seemed set to carry on until late in the night. For the first time in months, Egyptian politics seems to be on the cusp of real change.

Sunday's turnout -- on the first anniversary of Morsy's inauguration -- was described as the largest ever protest in the country's history. The  crowd in Tahrir crossed religious and socioeconomic lines -- old women in black hijabs shouted irhal, or "leave," next to youths carrying crosses, who chanted "Christians and Muslims are one hand."

Protesters carried red cards -- both a reference to a soccer penalty and a message to Morsy that they wanted to force him from the political playing field. "This is not a warning, this is a red card, you donkey," read one poster (it rhymes in Arabic).

As Morsy stood firm and insisted the only way out of the political crisis was dialogue, Egypt's opposition, on Monday, has given Islamist Mohamed Morsy a day to quit or face civil disobedience after deadly protests demanded the country's first democratically elected president step down after just a year in office.

''We give Mohamed Morsy until 5:00pm (1500GMT) on Tuesday July 2nd to leave power, allowing state institutions to prepare for early presidential elections,'' the Tamarod movement said on its website. Otherwise Tuesday, 5:00pm will be the beginning of a complete civil disobedience campaign''

Opposition leader Hamdeen Sabbahi called for military intervention if Morsy refused to quit.
"The armed forces must act, because they have always been on the side of the people" which "has expressed its will", said Sabbahi, who came third in the 2012 presidential election

According to a recent poll, while 57 percent of Egyptians were full of hope after Morsy won a democratic election that was seen as a positive development for the country, today that support has dropped to 28 percent, and almost all of it comes from the FJP and the Muslim Brotherhood. The poll found a whopping 70 percent of the electorate is dissatisfied with President Morsy's policies and performance and are concerned that the Brotherhood "intends to Islamize the state and control its executive powers."

As a consequence, some opposition groups formed the Tamarod (Rebel) campaign in April, which, by some accounts, has amassed the signatures of some 15 million Egyptians expressing no confidence in President Morsy and demanding his departure.

Abdel Maged, a leader of a U.S.-designated terrorist organization, Gama'a al-Islamiyya, has accused the Tamarod campaign of seeking to foment chaos in the country while also suggesting that Coptic Christians involved in the campaign are trying to create instability.

What comes next is still unclear. Regardless of what happens on Tuesday 5:00pm (1500GMT), one thing is clear: A growing number of Egyptians are deeply disappointed that the ideals of their revolution -- freedom, justice, and dignity -- remain just that, ideals. Unless the Egyptian government demonstrates the capacity and will to address the legitimate grievances of its citizens and is more inclusive of all segments of society, Egypt's messy transition to democracy will get even messier in the near term and tread down a path not worth imagining.

A roadmap for the country, should the protesters force Morsy from office, also remains vague. But one thing is clear: Egyptian protests suddenly got interesting again.

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