Friday, May 27, 2005

Reform halted in Egypt.

I have had the feeling for a long time that constitutional referendum over multi-candidate presidential elections in Egypt will not be a real step towards democracy.
I've seen that the media focused on the violence that accompanied the voting process but there was little mention of a more important thing which is the trap hidden behind this referendum which unfortunately made the Egyptian people in general and Egyptian opposition in particular face an unfavorable dilemma; if they reject the amendment, they will lose the chance to have multi-candidate elections and won't be able to end the one-man rule that infested the country for 24 years.

And if they approve the amendment they will have to accept the outcome of very unfairly competed upcoming elections on September because the amendment requires an independent candidate to get recommendations from at least 250 (little less than half) of the members of a parliament that is highly dominated by the ruling party of Mubarak, a requirement that is practically impossible to fulfill.

The referendum was designed in a way that meets Mubarak's ambitions by a largely corrupt and biased parliament and this is similar to the way the Lebanese parliament approved granting president Lahood an extra term.
I think it is quite dangerous to allow governement-controlled parliaments to take decisions that decide a nation's future and a reform done this way will only make things worse. So free general elections to choose an parliament that is independent form the government should've been the way to start the reform in a country like Egypt.

Ironically, it was the same parties and political movements which were strongly pushing for holding multi-candidate elections have been recently standing strongly against conducting the referendum while the government which rejected the opposition's demands for a long time has lately shown a lot of enthusiasm for the referendum and is apparently considering the results of the referendum a victory for democratic reform in Egypt (from the govt's point of view of course).

If this is supposed to say anything I guess it says that Mubarak views the referendum results as a victory for himself (or his son Jamal) because for a 1st time viewer it will show that doors are open for anyone who wants to run for office but the reality is that it only granted Mubarak a golden chance to be "democratically" elected (or has his son elected) in the upcoming elections in September because there will be no other "eligible" candidates for the voters to choose from.

I could be wrong but I really feel that the march for democracy in Egypt has just been halted, for another few years at least.

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