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Rigged Democracy: Like Egypt, Like Israel

Bukra il-mishmish” they say…

mursi

Candidate Mohammed Mursi

On Thursday, June 14, 2012, Egypt’s highest court dissolved Parliament and martial law was reimposed by the country’s military rulers. On June 16-17 the second round in Egypt’s first free presidential polls will take place. The two events are closely related, being an attempt of the military to manipulate the judicial system in order to reinstate the deposed Mubarak regime with a different head.

The complex parliamentary elections to the People’s Assembly of Egypt began in late November 2011, and continued until the following January. To the horror of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) running the country since Mubarak was deposed, the Muslim Brothers won a significant percentage of the vote; their party Freedom and Justice got 48%. Al-Nour—another Islamist party—got 28%. In their first free parliamentary elections, Egyptians said “no!” to the despotic rule of the military which has run the republic since its foundation in 1953. Shortly afterwards, the new parliament began cementing the revolution that ousted Mubarak. In April, it passed a law intended to ban top officials who served under Mubarak in the last decade from becoming president; this became a major obstacle in the way of the SCAF. By definition, all the candidates they could support were banned by this law. The military had no chance of nullifying it; instead they decided to nullify parliament. Time Time was of the essence, as presidential elections were to take place in May.

Candidate Ahmed Shafiq
Candidate Ahmed Shafiq

In late May, the first round of the presidential elections took place; to the shock of the SCAF, the military was again defeated. The Muslim Brotherhood candidate, Mohammed Mursi, got a slight lead on former PM Ahmed Shafiq, with 25.3% of votes against 24.9%, forcing the upcoming second round. Concentrating all their remaining forces in a single strategic attack, the SCAF won an important victory yesterday when the Supreme Constitutional Court of Egypt ruled that the parliamentary elections had been unconstitutional and dissolved the parliament.

“These are false accusations!” Egyptians army officers would exclaim at this point if they bothered reading my articles. On a very technical level, it is not possible to claim the SCAF is openly attempting to place a figurehead as the next president of the country. Yet, looking at the details it is not possible to deny that. Candidate Ahmed Shafiq had not been formally placed by the army, but he was as close to that as possible. Like Mubarak, Shafiq is a former fighter pilot; he served as commander of the Egyptian air force from 1996 to 2002. He was selected to be Egypt’s Prime Minister on 29 January 2011, during the last days of the Mubarak presidency and was forced to resign a few months later because of his links to Mubarak. Ever since, he has been widely considered a remnant of the old and corrupt military regime.

The other center of power in this saga is also highly questionable. All the judges in the Supreme Constitutional Court of Egypt had been appointed by Mubarak. Proving loyal to their former master, they ruled that the parliamentary elections had been unconstitutional, claiming that one third of the winners were illegitimate. Two things make this ruling highly suspicious, to say the least. First, the Muslim Brotherhood held the majority of the seats ruled unconstitutional. Second, the timing of the publication, just days before the second and final round of the presidential elections, is a clear attempt to change the result, since the nullification of the parliament and the laws it passed, cleared the way for Mr. Shafiq to become president.

One of the best testimonies of Mr. Shafiq’s unfitness for the position of president was provided during his short service as Prime Minister. On a television talk show with author Alaa al-Aswany, he said: “I fought in wars, I killed and was killed.” Dead candidates should not be allowed to run non-zombie countries.

On June 2, I published Mubarak Sentenced to Life in Prison; Is Netanyahu Next? One of the readers claimed that this won’t happen since “Israel is centuries ahead of Egypt.” He wasn’t kind enough to educate me regarding the reasons for his surprising judgment; “ahead” in which sense? Did he mean in the state’s technical capability to commit mass-murders? After all, nobody can claim that the State of Israel is ahead of anybody on moral terms. Oddly enough, recent events in both countries show that Israel and Egypt are very similar in their oddly outdated approach to the rule of law. Both regimes use a judiciary system which is clearly dependent on the political system in order to advance the political agendas of the ruling oligarchies. The events surrounding the ongoing Egyptian elections prove that for Egypt. Recently, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took great pains to appoint as president of the Supreme Court a right-wing candidate (see Netanyahu buys Justice). The Israeli courts may be a bit more aware of media repercussions of their rulings and thus are a bit more cautious, but eventually, they also rule as per the wishes of their political masters (see Netanyahu, Snow White, and Ulpana). This violates the separation of powers to be expected in a modern state, rendering both regimes void of value, as the ongoing popular protests in both countries show. Go away Mubarak! Go away Netanyahu! General Tantawi and Rabbi Rothschild, General Ashkenazi and General Shafik, you represent nobody. You promote violence and oppression; crimes and oligarchies. You belong to the past; and there, you’ll be relinquished. “Bukra il-mishmish” is an Egyptian peasant proverb that literally means “tomorrow the apricot,” meaning that today they will not enjoy this luxurious fruit, but maybe tomorrow they will. It is a touching reminder of their poverty and a lifestyle that has not changed much since the days of the pharaohs. “Bukra il-mishmish” they say; “tomorrow democracy,” we answer.

Bukra il-mishmish | Tomorrow the apricot
Bukra il-mishmish | Tomorrow the apricot

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