Egyptians say NO to new Dictator

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | NOVEMBER 23, 2012

The opposition of the Egyptians to having a new puppet dictator did not take long to appear. The streets of Cairo and other cities resounded with the force that helped topple dictator Hosni Mubarak. The message is now directed to recently elected Mohamed Morsi, who wants to ensure his presence in government for much more time than everyone else expected. After passing a package of measures that he deems relevant to turn true some of his campaign promises, thousands of Egyptians fear Morsi will remain forever in power, especially after signing a ‘constitutional’ statement which places him above the law.

The “decree” that Morsi issued became the spark of yet another flammable round of protests that threatens to divide even more the two most powerful groups in Egypt: the Islamists and the secular. In several localities clashes between Morsi supporters and opponents broke the period of relative stability after the elections.  In at least three cities, Alexandria, Port and Ismailiya, protesters torched offices of the Muslim Brotherhood, the president’s party.

In the capital, the street marches began and ended without serious incidents, except for some skirmishes with police in Tahrir, where police used tear gas against protestors. The main opposition leaders, who are also West-controlled puppets, Mohamed El Baradei, and Hamdin Sabahi, the presidential candidate who finished third, took part in the demonstrations.

ElBaradei, founder of the new Constitution Party, called Morsi the “new king” after learning about the decree. “He has usurped all state power: a blow to the revolution that can have serious consequences,” the former diplomat wrote in his Twitter account. Some constitutional law professors have come to describe the movement as a “coup”.

In contrast, Islamist formations, both Salafists as the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, have come out in defense of the president. Thousands of Islamists gathered outside the gates of the presidential palace to express their support to President Morsi.

Early in the afternoon, the Morsi addressed his followers on a nationwide public television message issued from a stage in which there was a large picture of him. “The old regime is paying to attack government buildings and sow chaos,” proclaimed Morsi, who said that the role of what he called the ‘real opposition’ was important. “They want to obstruct the revolution, but do not let them do so … My decision today is to compensate those injured in the revolution,” Morsi said.

As for his decree, he denied wanting to break laws, and justified it with arguments such as seeking stability and purge of counterrevolutionary elements in the judiciary.

Until yesterday, Morsi had control of the Executive, Legislative and Constituent Assembly. After relieving the army leadership in August, the only institution hostile to his reign was the judiciary. So with the new constitutional declaration, submitted to the judiciary authority, Morsi has now seriously undermined the central pillar of the weak rule of law in post revolutionary Egypt.

According to the text, none of the decisions, decrees or laws approved by the him since his inauguration may be revoked by another state institution, including the judiciary. Morsi said there are those “who hide behind the judges” to derail the transition to democracy. “I do not like or want to use exceptional procedures, but if I see that my country is in danger I will, because it is my duty,” he said. “We respect justice, because in it there are many individuals who are clean, but we are against those who hide behind it.

Moreover, the Islamist leader shielded the Constituent Assembly and the Senate, both threatened with dissolution by three requests being considered by the Constitutional Court. Morsi also extended to two months the time available for the Constituent Committee to draft the new constitution, which was supposed to expire in early December.

The Real Agenda encourages the sharing of its original content ONLY through the tools provided at the bottom of every article. Please DON’T copy articles from The Real Agenda and redistribute by email or post to the web.

Egypt: A dictator’s best friend is always a crisis

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | NOVEMBER 23, 2012

Taking advantage of its renewed popularity thanks to the diplomatic success in the Gaza crisis, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, signed on Thursday four decrees that set him above the law, subjecting the judiciary branch of government to his authority. The sudden decision represents quite a dramatic effect in the long conflict between the Muslim Brotherhood and a section of the judiciary, in the context of a democratic transition.

According to the new legal package, which has the status of a constitutional declaration in the absence of a constitution, none of the decisions, decrees or laws approved by the president since his inauguration may be revoked by another state institution, and that includes the capacities of the judiciary branch. Not even Hosni Mubarak get such a position of prominence, at least from a legal standpoint.

In addition, the rais ceases the rebel state prosecutor, Abdel Magid Mahmud, and appointed in his place Talat Abdullah. Mahmud was a problem to Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood. As one of the lat vestiges of the Mubarak era, the former Prosecutor General is responsible for the acquittal of important figures of the former regime. The president ceased Mahmud last month, and sent him as ambassador to the Vatican. However, the attorney general, a lifetime appointment under current regulations, clung to his post and succeeded in making Morsi give up in his attempt to unseat him. Apparently, only temporarily.

In a nod to the revolutionary forces, one of the decrees ordered by Morsi says that all those acquitted on the murders and abuses committed during the 18 days of the Egyptian revolution last year will have to be retried. With few exceptions, including Mubarak and his interior minister at the time, the trials of senior officials and officers of the security forces have resulted in acquittals for lack of evidence. Indeed, this was one of the main demands of the revolutionaries which Morsi promised to meet during the election campaign.

Morsi also shields the Constituent Assembly and the Senate, both threatened with dissolution by three applications being considered by the Constitutional Court. Furthermore, in two months Morsi gave the constituent committee two more months to write the new draft of the constitution, that was due to expire in early December. The Assembly is facing a serious crisis after the recent withdrawal of the secular parties arguing that the body is dominated by Islamists.

So, with his legal package, Morsi tries to bring water to his mill in several conflicts between the Muslim Brotherhood with some strata and sectors of Egyptian society. The rais repeats the move that allowed him to relieve the army leadership last August, and shows that he or his puppet masters understand the dynamics of power and the windows of political opportunity to reassert presidential authority. What a better time than a regional crisis to assert himself as a ‘leader’?

Undoubtedly, the main target of Morsi’s move is a judiciary sector led by the Constitutional Court. The row with the highest levels of the judiciary starts with the dissolution of the first Constituent Assembly and Parliament, both bodies dominated by Islamists.

Since its inception, the Egyptian transition has been a struggle between various political movements and power centers. The absence of any consensus, not even among the revolutionary forces, caused the politicization of the judiciary. And especially its upper echelons, plagued by judges loyal to Mubarak and hostile to Islamist ideology.

However, we have to see if Morsi achieves his goals with this bold move, or rather galvanizes and unites his detractors. Since his inauguration last June, the popular manifestations of rejection of his government have been rather limited in scope, but the frequency of those manifestations has increased. A questions that needs to be asked is whether the order to retry those allegedly responsible for crimes during the Mubarak regime will bring together the revolutionaries or if that move will install fears of a new theocracy.

The Real Agenda encourages the sharing of its original content ONLY through the tools provided at the bottom of every article. Please DON’T copy articles from The Real Agenda and redistribute by email or post to the web.