RN Press Release 24 June 2012 The Road to Democracy after Morsi’s confirmation



RN welcomes the announcement by the High Elections Committee of the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate, Dr. Muhammad Morsi. Any other outcome would have driven Egypt closer to civil war, notwithstanding announcements by the MB’s leader that their opposition to authoritarianism would remain nonviolent.

Egypt, like the rest of the region, is at the beginning of a long road. The key to preserve the spirit of the Nile Revolution is to work with the largest front comprising the fullest possible spectrum of its revolutionary forces.

The next step in this spirit is for the president to appoint a comprehensive cabinet that includes a prime minister and a majority of participants from the non-religious sector of the revolution: women, youth representatives, liberal traditionalists, the democratic left, and a significant number of Christian leaders – for instance those who showed the way to the revolution in 2005 inside the original Kefaya movement. SCAF has dramatically hemmed in democracy, and their exit from political domination must be completed as they themselves promised time and again. A concession may be considered for military representation in the cabinet, perhaps defense and the military industries, which should not be lightly dismantled because of the reliance of thousands of families on a poor, but long-established safety net.

This wide front is even more necessary in the Constituent Assembly. The Assembly has already met twice, but the voice coming out does not yet represent Egypt. Mechanisms for citizen and expert participation have not been set up clearly enough. The Assembly needs to strive in efforts to involve and share a founding document with 80 million people, most of whom were side-lined during fifty years of dictatorship. The mechanisms must therefore be transparent, and committee and general meetings made public, documented and possibly televised. Constitution-making is not rocket science, and the Constitution of 1971 is a good enough document if the necessary clauses are modified. Dr. Tarek al-Bishri’s Commission had achieved good work last year. That text, barring one poor clause preventing candidates married to foreigners from running, should be the departing point for the Constituents. There is no hurry to complete the Constitution: serious, extended, inclusive deliberations over two or more years will secure a better text than a quickly-fixed document.

Sooner or later, a new Parliament will be needed. Until elections are carried out, on an altogether different basis than previously, the Constituent Assembly can fill the gap for key legislation. With all the mistakes of the SCC 14 June decision, the Court was right when it took the defence of the majority of voters not belonging to any political party. Political parties did not make the Nile Revolution. Nor are political parties the necessary or exclusive way to participate.

Until the new Parliament is elected, the Constituent Assembly can build the central blocks for the legislation urgently needed, while keeping a check on the government for the pressing needs of reviving the economy, revamping the police and the judiciary, and restoring tourism. All these urgent matters are premised on the development of the rule of law, including reversing the shameful military trials of 2011-12, and correcting the poor performance of the courts in protecting the citizen’s basic right, and in seeking accountability as in the bungled trial of Mubarak and his aides. Reforming and consolidating the judiciary is a pressing task.

The people of Egypt have turned a small but important corner. We need their leadership for the wider Middle East revolution, including support to ensure its success in Syria, Bahrain and Sudan. The first visit to Cairo of a foreign president after the Nile Revolution was that of Omar Bashir. It should be the last visit of a non-democratically elected Middle East leader to revolutionary Egypt.

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