Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Eve of a Non-Event

With both secular and religious opposition calls to boycott the referendum on a constitutional amendment allowing multi-candidate presidential elections in Egypt, the general consensus is that the reforms are unlikely to result in dramatic political changes to leadership in the upcoming September election, a point even the Egyptian Prime Minister is willing to concede. The argument being put forth by the government and its supporters is that the seeds for future change have now been sowed with this constitutional amendment. Change, it is argued, is best if slowly cultivated, rather than brought on suddenly with the consequences unknown and unchecked so as to avoid the scenarios of Algeria or Iran (Iraq being a regional aberration). Egypt viewed the social, economic and political upheavals faced by the former Soviet Union and the leadership quickly came to the conclusion that change, if unavoidable, should be managed and slow. Often the cases of Morocco and even Jordan are pointed to as slow evolutionary processes allowing for political maturation of the electorate and strengthening of the institutional framework. While such arguments may have merit, they must be made within the context of slow change on all front, including a welcoming to all political voices. As the regime in power opens to change and puts in place the empowering mechanics, the opposition must also be allowed to mature with the process. As noted by various analysts, including very recently in the Washington Post, the clear contradiction in the international and Egyptian support of opposition religious political movements such as Hamas and Hezbollah, yet resistance to greater political integration of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood is staggering, and raises serious doubt in many minds as to the veracity of the desire for change.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Jawad said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2:26 PM  
Blogger Jawad said...

Hi Dhalia: You might be interested to read my latest post and associated comments. As I said in the post, the proposed amendment in its current form is a clear political trap. Now, the other thing we hear as u point out is that reform takes time and things must be done carefully in order to attain maturity of the political structure in an optimum way. A lot of this, not all, is pure theoretical garbage. History actually proves otherwise. Examples extend from Chile to Poland to what are now new EU accession countries. The current regimes are taking advantage of the terrorism issue to scare the West into backing off from calls for reform and democracy. In other words, they are blackmailing the world to stay in power - that just doesn’t hold water anymore. At one point or another people have to say enough and that time is now.

2:27 PM  

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