President Morsy of Egypt has given himself by decree powers which cannot be contested by the legislative or judicial branch till a time not as yet fixed. He states he is safeguarding the revolution, while people flock to Tahrir Square to defend the same revolution from him. When you decree “The President may take the necessary actions and measures to protect the country and the goals of the revolution” (Article 5) with no safeguards to check your actions, the cry of “dictator” is to be heard in the land.
Egypt now is split between two warring camps: one bearing Islamist colours, comprising the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists; and the other, of a secular inclination, composed of liberals, nationalists, leftists and Coptic Christians – with the supporters of ousted leader Hosni Mubarak lurking right behind them
With his party having achieved dominance in legislative and executive elections, only the judiciary stood as a check to his authority. Some however point to the current judiciary as being part of the old Mubarak regime. An elected President therefore has the legitimacy to overrule and reform.
See his decree statement here
The implication in that statement is that Egypt’s judiciary as a whole is a Mubarak-era obstacle that must be sidelined and overcome in order for the revolution to succeed. Thursday’s decree amounts to a declaration of war on the judges after months of simmering tensions between them and Morsy’s Muslim Brotherhood–dating back to the dissolution of the Parliament.
Article 2 is particularly disconcerting, because it requires trust that all measures taken (to be annulled once the constitution is approved and lower House of Parliament elected) will be beneficial without possibility of appeal, check or approval in the mean time.
Yet given that the judiciary dissolved a previously elected parliament, and a prosecutor that failed to jail Mubarak’s cronies and murderous henchmen could not be sacked till this decree, suggests the constitutional vacuum needs resolving. A lack of cohesion among the opponents of Mubarak following his ousting has not helped. One could say the rules of the game in post Mubarak Egypt were not only ignored, they were not agreed to by anyone. Instead there is gang warfare taking place on the streets.
So after the applause on the world stage over the ceasefire between Hamas and Israel, and while Americans tucked into their Turkey thanks giving dinners, Morsy may have thought now was the right time to seize absolute power.
The point to emphasise here is that this is not a straightforward conflict between Islamists and secularists. It is murkier, filthier than that with a stink from all those grasping for power. Sadly, the blood of the people may be the result. He who controls the streets may well triumph for law or absolute power, fulfil the promise of the revolution or betray the aspirations of the people.
I wish the Egyptian people well in their struggle for true freedom for all.
Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog