Morsi calls for talks with opposition to end civil unrest in Egypt

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | JANUARY 28, 2013

Egyptian President, Mohamed Morsi has had to learn quickly as the leader of Egypt. Morsi, who after being elected attempted to illegally give himself more power than he was supposed to have, rapidly found out that the Egyptian people had not revolt against Mubarak simply to welcome a new dictator.

The Egyptian leader, went from wanting power over other government branches to waving the white flag and calling on the opposition to sit down and hold talks with him today in Cairo. Morsi believes that new meetings will show his willingness to be inclusive, which may help  pacify the Eastern region that for the past four days has been on fire with a series of disturbances that claimed more than 50 lives.

Violence on the streets is seen sporadically in different parts of the country, but it almost always such violence has a very high price. One person died from a gunshot to the chest in the iconic Tahrir Square in Cairo. Meanwhile, the Army is stationed in the streets of Port Said and Suez, by order of the government, which has declared a state of emergency in those two cities and Ismailia.

The meeting will be held at 18.00 Egyptian time at the presidential palace, where Morsi expects to meet with several Islamist groups such as the Party for Freedom and Justice, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, which supports Morsi, along with other secular organizations, the Constitution Party and the Social Democratic Party.

In a televised address to the nation on Sunday night, Morsi said he believes that “dialogue is the only way to bring stability to Egypt” and that the violence seen in recent days is “alien to the Egyptians and the revolution. ”

While Morsi called on the opposition to renounce violence seen in the context of the second anniversary of the riots that deposed Hosni Mubarak, his detractors have called for a demonstration today to commemorate the so-called “Friday of Rage”, which occurred on January 28 2011, when the revolutionaries managed the withdrawal of the armed forces and took Tahrir Square, where the hottest concentrations of  Egyptians set down since the protests began. Opponents joined with the National Salvation Front and called for Morsi to repeal the recently passed Islamist constitution, approved by referendum in December.

The curfew, between 21:00 and 06:00, is in force in Port Said, Ismailia and Suez, the three provinces where the government declared a state of emergency. In Port Said, the main focus of violence, riots started by the death sentence of 21 accused in the killing that took place in a  football stadium of the Al Masry soccer team, which killed 74 fans of the visiting team in February last year.

In the rest of the nation the riots were due to protests by the opposition for what it considers a hijacking of the democratic principles of the revolution by the Islamist Government led by Morsi. The government called for parliamentary elections for next April, but the opposition already said it will boycott them if Morsi does not repeal the Constitution and creates a national unity government.

For the fifth consecutive day, riots have occurred intermittently between youth groups and the security forces on the outskirts of Tahrir Square, in Kasr al-Aini Street and Yusef el-Guindi. In their attempts to disperse the youths, mostly using stones and petrol bombs, police used tear gas and shot pellets.

One person has died from the wounds in the chest by one of these missiles. According to the newspaper Al Ahram, it was a pedestrian walking in Tahrir that suddenly found himself in the middle of an altercation.

Soon after it arrived from the global forum in Davos, the Egyptian prime minister, Hisham Kandil, made a surprise visit to the police forces deployed around Tahrir Square. According to police sources, Kandil urged the police to use force against those who attack the institutions and state property.

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.

Why can Egyptians challenge their government but Americans can’t?

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | DECEMBER 10, 2012

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, today decided to cancel the controversial statement that shielded his powers against other government branches in his country as well as against justice. The new text says that if the new constitution is rejected in the referendum to be carried out on December 15, the president must choose a new Constituent Assembly in three months. The new constitutional declaration maintains the possibility of prosecuting those responsible for killings.

In a couple of weeks time, and after massive protests from a majority of Egyptians, Mohamed Morsi had to back down on his attempt to become the newest dictator, which he achieved by giving himself as much power as his predecessor had.

As announced in a press conference, the Islamist Mohamed Selim al Awa, who participated in a national dialogue meeting convened by Morsi, the president did not agree to postpone the referendum on the new constitution, so it will be held on 15 December as it was first set by Morsi himself.

The cancellation of the constitutional act was one of the demands of the opposition, along with the postponement of the plebiscite that finally was held as scheduled.

The commission, composed among others by al Awa and liberal politician Ayman Nur, drafted a new constitutional declaration that has been promulgated by Morsi that cancels the previous article imposed by Morsi back on November 21.

The constitutional change does not mention the controversial shield to Morsi’s powers that had been granted previously, or judicial immunity guaranteed to the Constituent Assembly and the Shura Council (upper house).

The new text says that if the new constitution is rejected in a referendum, the president must choose a new Constituent Assembly within three months of the vote, consisting of a hundred people and that must complete its work within a period not exceeding six months.

The new constitutional declaration maintains the ability to prosecute those responsible for the killings of protesters and civilians committed between January 25, 2011, when the so-called Arab Spring began  against Hosni Mubarak, and June 30, 2012, when Morsi took office.

The change declares itself constitutional himself while doing the same for all decrees issued since the fall of Mubarak.

As for the referendum, the Egyptian vice president, Mahmoud Meki, said in the press conference that there will be enough judges to oversee the consultation, after some groups of the judiciary announced that they will not participate in the monitoring.

The national dialogue, in which these decisions were made to give a solution to the political crisis in the country, was boycotted by the non-Islamist opposition, which is part of the “National Salvation Front”.

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’s Mohamed Morsi shows his Teeth

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | NOVEMBER 29, 2012

After a modest attempt to bring opponents together, the Egyptian president turned dictator, Mohamed Morsi and his political movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, have opted to shield themselves again against the political crisis gripping the country after he granted himself almost absolute power.

On Wednesday night it emerged that the Brotherhood will accelerate the process of drafting the new constitution to finish on Thursday, a move that will deteriorate even more the relations between Islamist and secular.

As we reported last week, one of the most controversial provisions in the constitutional declaration was Morsi’s shielding of the Constituent Assembly against a possible dissolution by the Constitutional Court. The Court was expected to rule on the legality of the committee, now dominated by Islamists, beginning next December 2. Secular forces had withdrawn from the Assembly, hoping that it could lead to a new more balanced committee.

The process of drafting the new constitution began almost six months ago, and had entered its final phase in October. In fact, several drafts have already been published, and the time has come to decide the content of several of the most sensitive items. The President of the Assembly, Hossan al Geriany reported Wednesday that the next day there would be a final vote of each of the 200 items.

“The decision to accelerate the vote will only serve to add fuel to the fire,” said Mohamed Abdel-Alim Dawoud to the Al Ahram newspaper. Dawoud is a member of the historic Wafd party, and one of the representatives of the Constituent Assembly that was removed. The sudden decision is directly related to the political crisis in the country.

For the Muslim Brotherhood the decision to accelerate the process is a way to double its bet on his game with the opposition, presenting some stark choices: accept the exceptional powers or a constitution that is not to their liking. Geriany was very clear: “If you are angry about the decree, nothing better than an approved constitution to solve the problem”.

Under current legislation, the majority needed to approve the Constitution is 57 of the 100 members of the Constituent Assembly. Subsequently, the voted version must be approved in a popular referendum in order to take effect. Despite the withdrawal of the representatives of the secular parties and some civil entities, experts believe that the Islamists possess a quorum to approve a new constitution

Meanwhile, the Constitutional Court reacted to Morsi’s accusations about the the Court’s leaks regarding its decisions. The Court accused Morsi of launching a “campaign of relentless attacks” against the institution. In a statement, the Constitutional denies the assertion that it has politicized the political game.

Most political analysts insist that there is a need to seek a negotiated solution to the conflict and the process of drafting the new constitution. Failure to reach an agreement will certainly cause another period of confrontations, both on the media and on the streets.

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.