Egypt: A dictatorâs best friend is always a crisis
The Real Agenda
November 26th, 2012
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Taking advantage of its renewed popularity thanks to the diplomatic success in the Gaza crisis, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, signed on ThursdayÂ fourÂ decrees that set himÂ above the law, subjecting the judiciary branch of government toÂ his authority. The sudden decision represents quite a dramatic effect in the long conflict between the Muslim Brotherhood and aÂ 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 inaugurationÂ may be revoked by another state institution, and that includes the capacities of theÂ judiciary branch. Not even Hosni MubarakÂ get such a position of prominence, at least from a legal standpoint.
In addition, theÂ raisÂ ceases the rebel state prosecutor, Abdel MagidÂ Mahmud, and appointed in his place TalatÂ Abdullah. Mahmud was aÂ problem toÂ MorsiÂ 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 ceasedÂ Mahmud last month, andÂ sent him asÂ ambassador to the Vatican. However, the attorney general, a lifetime appointment under current regulations, clung to his post and succeeded in makingÂ Morsi give up in his attempt to unseat him. Apparently, only temporarily.
In a nod to the revolutionary forces, one of the decrees ordered byÂ MorsiÂ says thatÂ all those acquittedÂ 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 promisedÂ to meet during the election campaign.
MorsiÂ alsoÂ 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 theÂ constituent committee two more months to write the newÂ draft of theÂ 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, withÂ his legalÂ package, MorsiÂ tries to bring water toÂ his mill in several conflicts between the Muslim Brotherhood with some strata and sectors of Egyptian society. TheÂ raisÂ repeats the move that allowed him to relieve the army leadership last August, and showsÂ that he or his puppet mastersÂ 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 âleaderâ?
Undoubtedly, the main target of Morsiâs move is a judiciary sector led byÂ 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 MorsiÂ achieves his goals with this bold move, or rather galvanizes and unites his detractors. SinceÂ 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 willÂ bring together the revolutionariesÂ or if that move willÂ installÂ fears of a new theocracy.
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Contributed by Luis Miranda of The Real Agenda.
Luis R. Miranda is the Founder and Editor of The Real Agenda. His 16 years of experience in Journalism include television, radio, print and Internet news. Luis obtained his Journalism degree from Universidad Latina de Costa Rica, where he graduated in Mass Media Communication in 1998. He also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Broadcasting from Montclair State University in New Jersey. Among his most distinguished interviews are: Costa Rican President Jose Maria Figueres and James Hansen from NASA Space Goddard Institute.
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