Egypt: The fruits of a revolution

African Update – 07/09/12

Egypt is the newest country in Africa to usher in a democratically elected president after the collapse of the government of Hosni Mubarak which had been in power for 30 years.

Mubarak took over from Anwar Sadat who was assasinated by gun men in a parade marking Egypt’s successful crossing of the Sinai. Sadat had led Egypt to recapture Egyptian territory lost to Israel in the Six Day War in 1967 but then he started negotiations and eventually signed a peace treaty with Israel. This made him win the Nobel Peace Prize at the same time that it made him unpopular in the Arab world leading to the Arab League’s suspension of Egypt’s membership and would later lead to his assasination.

Mubarak who was the vice president at the time was sworn in as president and has since ruled the country until popular protest successes in Tunisia was imitated in Egypt. Egyptians took into the streets, congregating in the now iconic Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo to demand the immediate resignation of the president. The revolution began as a popular protest but defunct political groups like the Muslim Brotherhood soon took advantage of the vacuum in opposition politics and sang along with the pro-democracy protesters. Until then, the Brotherhood had gone underground as the party was banned from political activities and some of their members were hunted down, persecuted and imprisoned by Mubarak’s government.

After an intense pressure and suspense, Mubarak finally gave up and transferred power to the Supreme Military Council of the Armed Forces who promised to organise elections. For the first time after 30 years, Egyptians had a say in who they wanted to lead their country. The Muslim Brotherhood formed the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) that won the parliamentary elections which was to be later dissolved by the military council citing illegalities. The Brotherhood’s candidate, Mohamed Morsi won the elections in a closely run runoff and became the first elected president after Mubarak.

The military council, most of whose members were until the revolution part of  the Mubarak regime, in a bid to capitualised on political power issued the Complementary Constitutional Declaration that sought to give more powers to the military Council over the president.

However, they obviously underestimated Mohamed Morsi, the elected president. Just a few days after  the president was sworn in, he called back the dissolved parliament, an act which was obviously in defiance  to the military council’s ruling dissolving parliament. The tug of war continued until the president had a rare chance when unknown assailants attacked a police post in North Sinai killing 16 police officers. President Morsi took the opportunity fire his army chief, Hussein Tantawi who was the head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces of Egypt and defacto head of state until the elections. He relieved his chief of staff, Sami Anan and made them both advisors. The President also fired other high-rank security officials like intelligence Chief Murad Muwafithe.

Morsi also withdrew the Complementary Constitutional Declaration which was issued by the military council days before he was declared the winner of Egypt’s first election after 30 years. The Declaration was meant to strip the presidential powers and adorn such powers to the military council but the determined Morsi would not have it.

Mohamed Morsi who received his PhD in Engineering from the University of Southern California in 1982 in the US has so far won the support of the Tahrir Square pro-democracy protestors  when he sacked the army bigwigs who were regarded untouchable. He seems to be a tough guy who can lead post-revolution Egypt into reconstruction, reconciliation and sober reflections on the achievement of the revolution and also honour those without whose sacrifice, the revolution would not have succeeded.

Morsi in a move to rekindle relations with the African Union visited Ethiopia in July 2012 to attend the AU Summit in Addis Ababa. It was the first visit by an Egyptian president in 17 years, after Mubarak decided to suspend attending the summits when he survived an assassination attempt on the way to Addis Ababa in 1995.

It is still too early days yet to tell how Egypt’s future will look like but if the transition into democracy is anything to go by, it is evident that peace and stability will bring Egypt back into the limelight after a bloody revolution that claimed the lives of an estimated 846 people and injured more than 600 people and brought the economy into a sharp decline.

Author: Stephen Atalebe, African student of Economics, Mendel University Brno, Czech Republic

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Our library has aquired a number of new and interesting books. Here is the list of the latest titles.

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  • Fashion Cities Africa by Hannah Azieb Pool
  • Frantz Fanon: Toward a Revolutionary Humanismby Christopher Lee
  • Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty by Robinson, James A., Acemoglu, Daron
  • Shakespeare in Swahililand: Adventures With the Ever-Living Poet by Edward Wilson-Lee
  • A History of Modern Africa: 1800 to the Present by Richard J. Reid
  • Authentically African: Arts and the Transnational Politics of Congolese Culture by Sarah Van Beurden
  • Children in Slavery through the Ages by by Gwyn CampbellSuzanne MiersJoseph C. Miller
  • Global Health in Africa: Historical Perspectives on Disease Control by Tamara Giles-Vernick
  • Rumba on the River: A History of the Popular Music of the Two Congos by Gary  Stewart
  • Women and Slavery, Vol. 1: Africa, the Indian Ocean World, and the Medieval North Atlantic by Gwyn Campbell
  • Women and Slavery, Vol. 2: The Modern Atlantic by Gwyn Campbell
  • Cahier d'un Retour Au Pays Natal by Aimé Cesaire
  • Healing Traditions: African Medicine, Cultural Exchange and Competition in South Africa, 1820-1948 by Karen Elizabeth  Flint
  • Global Education Policy and International Development: New Agendas, Issues and Policies by Antoni Verger
  • Black Skin, White Coats: Nigerian Psychiatrists, Decolonization, and the Globalization of Psychiatry by Matthew M. Heaton

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