Sunday, June 17, 2012
THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK
There is widespread feeling in the Muslim world, that the West and Israel were caught by surprise at the winning streak of Islamists, both Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists in the Egypt's first free democratic elections ever held. The Egyptian military in cahoots with the West and Israel, was bound to strike back ---in the old manner of the Empire Strikes Back.
The Empire got the Mubarak appointed constitutional court to struck down the Parliamentary Elections on mere technicality and that too within 2 days of the upcoming Presidential Elections, seriously undermining the public confidence, if the army will ever let free democratic process to succeed. It may contrive to see that Mubarak’s chosen former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik, wins a majority.
BBC in its hourly news coverage already proclaims a ‘turnaround’ favoring Shafik. Surprisingly BBC gets Egyptian women in scarf lining up to vote, to be vouching not for Mohammed Morsi, but Ahmed Shafik. That is BBC’s contribution to the ‘turnaround’ based on blatant disinformation.
If Morsi wins, the court may struck down this election too, with the spacious argument that there is no approved constitution to legitimize any handover of power to Morsi, if he wins.
The liberals who had shared much in conjunction with the Islamists, to make the Egyptian revolution a historical success, now apparently disillusioned by their own scanty representation in the new democratic set-up, would probably resigned to a West sponsored Army coup. This time around Islamists will have to fill the Tahrir Square on their own.
The more things change, the more they remain the same.
Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai
Egypt elections: Voting enters second day
Correspondents say the turnout appears to be lower than the first round
Continue reading the main storyPolls have opened in Egypt for a second and final day of voting to elect the country's first president since Hosni Mubarak was forced from office in 2011.
Islamist candidate Mohammed Mursi is up against former Mubarak official Ahmed Shafiq in a second-round run-off.
The vote also comes amid a bitter row over the dissolution of parliament following a court ruling on Thursday.
Mr Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood has denounced the step as unlawful and a coup against democracy.
The movement urged Egyptians to protect their revolution after the ruling Supreme Council of Armed Forces (Scaf) declared the parliament null and void on Saturday.
Two days earlier, the Supreme Constitutional Court ruled that last year's legislative polls were unconstitutional, in a decision made by judges appointed under Mr Mubarak.
The dispute has laid bare the fears of some that the military council is trying to consolidate power and resist the democratic changes demanded during last year's demonstrations.
Continue reading the main story'People's will' Mr Shafiq, Mubarak's last prime minister, has campaigned on a platform of a return to stability and law-and-order which, correspondents say, many find attractive after months of political turmoil.
- Aged 60
- US-educated engineering professor
- Head of Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP)
- Served as independent MP 2000-05
- Quietly spoken, viewed by some as lacking charisma
- Has promised "stability, security, justice and prosperity" under an Islamic banner
But to his critics, the former air force officer is the army's unofficial candidate and a symbol of the autocratic days under Mubarak.
Mr Mursi, meanwhile, has cast himself as a revolutionary and part of the movement that overthrew Mubarak, and has promised economic and political reform.
He has also softened his religious stance in an attempt to attract liberals and minorities.
His Freedom and Justice Party won almost half of seats in the legislature in the 2011 polls.
The BBC's Jon Leyne says that there is less enthusiasm in the run-off election than there was for previous rounds of voting, and some have called for a boycott or spoiled ballots.
Our correspondent says that the lack of young people voting on Saturday was particularly noticeable.
Continue reading the main storyWhile state TV has been urging people to vote, some activists have been distributing flyers in several Cairo metro stations calling for a boycott.
- Aged 70
- Veteran fighter pilot and former air force chief
- Appointed Egypt's first aviation minister, earning reputation for competence and efficiency
- Promoted to PM during February 2011 protests
- Associated with Mubarak regime, though denies being backed by ruling military council
- Campaigned on a promise to restore security
On Saturday, the top official in parliament, Sami Mahran, said he had received a letter from the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (Scaf) confirming for the first time that the lower house, the People's Assembly, had been dissolved.
In response, the Muslim Brotherhood said the move was a "coup against the whole democratic process".
"We are asking for the people to be the ones who decide that the parliament gets dissolved, as such a decision should be taken by the people's will and not the executive authority," FJP deputy leader Essam el-Erian told Reuters.
The move followed Thursday's supreme court ruling that the law governing Egypt's first democratic elections in more than six decades was unconstitutional because party members were allowed to contest seats in the lower house reserved for independents.
Scaf officials have told state media that it now plans to issue a new interim constitution and potentially select a replacement constitutional panel itself.
The ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (Scaf) has vowed to hand over power to the winner by 30 June.
But the decision to dissolve parliament so swiftly means that the new president could take office without the oversight of a sitting parliament and without a permanent constitution to define his powers or duties.
On Saturday afternoon, Mr Mursi's campaign held a news conference in which it said several electoral violations had been reported, and urged voters to report any incidents.
Mr Shafiq came second in last month's first round, in which turnout among the 52 million eligible voters was only 46%. Official results gave Mr Mursi 24.8% and Mr Shafiq 23.7%.
Final results from the Higher Presidential Election Commission (HPEC) are due by 21 June, but are expected to arrive much earlier.