Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

FOCUS

Campaigning against Bouteflika's re-election... in France

Read more

WEB NEWS

Chile: Online mobilization to help Valparaiso fire victims

Read more

ENCORE!

Art, sex, money, memory and manga

Read more

MIDDLE EAST MATTERS

Spat over Iran's UN ambassador hampers thawing relations with US

Read more

FOCUS

China trade deal: Is Taiwan's identity under threat?

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'Call it a caretaker government'

Read more

DEBATE

Nigeria's Battles

Read more

DEBATE

Nigeria's Battles (part 2)

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Pornography without borders is key benefit of EU, says French MEP

Read more

  • US rolls out red carpet for French critic of capitalism

    Read more

  • Pro-Russia separatists ‘seize’ Ukrainian armoured vehicles

    Read more

  • Acclaimed Belgian conservationist shot in eastern Congo

    Read more

  • France's new PM targets welfare in drive to cut spending

    Read more

  • Rescue effort under way as ferry sinks off S. Korean coast

    Read more

  • Brazil club Mineiro cancel Anelka signing after no-show

    Read more

  • Syria 'torture' photos silence UN Security Council members

    Read more

  • Paris laboratory loses deadly SARS virus samples

    Read more

  • More than 100 schoolgirls kidnapped in northeast Nigeria

    Read more

  • New York police disband unit targeting Muslims

    Read more

  • 'Miracle girl' healthy after seven-organ transplant in Paris

    Read more

  • Paris police memo calling for Roma eviction ‘rectified’

    Read more

  • Burgundy digs into France's bureaucratic 'mille-feuille'

    Read more

  • French court drops ‘hate speech’ case against Bob Dylan

    Read more

  • Algeria rights crackdown slammed ahead of election

    Read more

  • Iraq closes notorious Abu Ghraib jail over security fears

    Read more

  • Berlusconi sentenced to community service for tax fraud

    Read more

  • In ‘Tom at the Farm’, Xavier Dolan blends Hitchcock and homoeroticism

    Read more

  • US to mark one year since Boston Marathon bombing

    Read more

  • India's Supreme Court establishes third gender category

    Read more

  • Paris hotel that hosted Holocaust survivors shuts for renovation

    Read more

Middle east

Can Egypt election winners wrest power from military?

©

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-01-21

Egypt’s first free parliamentary elections after the Arab Spring saw the Muslim Brotherhood win 47 percent of seats. The question now is whether the moderate Islamists can really wrestle power from the hands of the military without further bloodshed.

Almost one year ago to the day, the people of Egypt swarmed Cairo’s streets, demanding democracy and the head of 83-year-old President Hosni Mubarak.

After 18 days of demonstrations Mubarak was toppled, but not before 850 protesters had been killed and thousands more injured in a bloody crackdown by his henchmen.
 
Today the disgraced former president, who seems to be confined to a hospital bed, faces a battle, both against his deteriorating health and prosecutors’ attempts to condemn him to the death penalty for ordering a deadly response to the protests.
 
Mubarak may be gone, but the military leaders who helped prop up his regime for 30 years are still in power. And even if the Supreme Council for the Armed Forces fulfils its promise to relinquish power once presidential elections are completed in June, worries persist that they will continue to pull strings behind the scenes.
 
The tough and delicate task of wrenching control from the armed forces will lie mainly with the moderate Islamic group the Muslim Brotherhood.
 
Election results announced on Saturday revealed the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party will be the dominant force in the parliament’s lower house after winning 47 percent of seats.
 
“They are really going to have to prise power away from these generals. This is a state that has really been a military state for over 60 years. The army does not want to give up the rights to oversee whoever is holding civilian power,” Robin Wright, a fellow at the US Institute of Peace, who has just returned from Egypt, told the BBC.
 
The first challenge facing elected representatives will be to hold accountable those who ordered and took part in the deadly crackdowns on protesters both under Mubarak and the rule of the military.
 
There are concerns among Egyptians that Mubarak’s trial will be a whitewash and fail to deliver real justice against the deposed ruler. There are also worries the Muslim Brotherhood will shy away from putting military chiefs on trial for the deaths of scores of protesters in recent months.
 
'The military will be held responsible'
 
But Mohamed Badie, head of the Muslim Brotherhood, rebuked these suggestions on Saturday.
 
“We say that we respect and appreciate the army, but the military council must be held accountable for any mistakes. No one is above accountability,” Badie told Egyptian channel Dream TV before the election results were announced.
 
Appealing for an end to the anti-military protests that have marked recent months, Badie added, “This is a transitional period, and we urge everyone to cooperate until we reach safety.”
 
Badie also insisted that a national security council should be set up and parliament, rather than the military, should have the right to determine who sits on that body.
 
“The responsibility for oversight on all people’s institutions, including the military, lies with the People’s Assembly,” he said.
 
On the controversial issue of the military’s budget, Badie said it would be ‘reviewed’ and ‘scrutinised’ by a special parliamentary committee that will include representatives of the army.
 
Political power might not be the only thing that the army will be reluctant to hand over. According to some estimates, military-owned enterprises constitute up to a third of the country’s economy.
 
If the Muslim Brotherhood appears content with the progress made towards democracy, those demonstrators who helped overthrow Mubarak are certainly not.
 
Protests demanding justice for those killed at the hands of authorities have continued, with thousands of anti-military protesters descending on Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Friday.
 
And the one-year anniversary of the uprising against Mubarak is set to be marked by further demonstrations against military chiefs on Wednesday.
 
International pressure needed
 
Some experts on Egypt are calling for foreign governments to tighten the screws on the country’s interim rulers to ensure transfer of power to elected representatives.
 
“If the United States wants to build a positive relationship with a new democratic Egypt, President Obama should state unequivocally that Egypt’s future lies with a democratic civilian government and that the military rulers do not have the unconditional support of the US government”, said Neil Hicks, International Policy Advisor for the US based organisation Human Rights First. 
 
On Friday the US president took a step in that direction when he held a telephone conversation with the Egyptian military council chief Field Marshall Hussein Tantawi.
 
“The president reinforced the necessity of upholding universal principles and emphasized the important role of civil society, including non-governmental organisations, in a democratic society,” a White House statement said following the call.
 
On Wednesday Egypt’s military rulers plan to mark the occasion by holding a nationwide air show, including flyovers by warplanes. They have declared the day a national holiday.
 
But the people of Egypt are unlikely to be impressed by low-flying military jets, when what they really want is for the military to take off and let civilians take over.

 

Date created : 2012-01-21

  • EGYPT

    Muslim Brotherhood victorious in Egypt elections

    Read more

  • EGYPT

    Disgruntled ElBaradei pulls out of Egypt presidential race

    Read more

Comments

COMMENT(S)