Hope for a Democratic Egypt

by ursavoice

Kevin Reyes
J.D. Candidate 2013, UCI Law

So if you have not been watching the news lately or live under a rock, President Hosni Mubarak has just been overthrown by a military coup. This is a result of several days of popular uprising. The military stepped in at the last minute after observing the events, including government supporters on camels and horses assaulting the protesters without intervening. When no other option was available, the military demanded that President Mubarak step down and release control of the country.

The military, headed by General Mohammed Tantawi and the High Military Counsel, now has the task of meeting the people’s legitimate demands. They plan to accomplish this by immediately stopping all demonstrations (including worker strikes), suspending the constitution, and organizing elections within the next six months. However, skeptics doubt this will be done before one year. Those skeptics include, for example, Mohammed al Badea, the former director of the International Atomic Energy Agency and possible candidate for president, and me.

Many tasks need to be completed, which require painstaking effort and patience by the people: the drafting of a new constitution, the dissolution of the National Democratic Party (Mubarak’s party), while also meeting the economic demands of the people. These economic problems include high unemployment, population explosions, and extreme poverty (40% of the population lives on fewer than $2 a day). Another problem that Egypt faces is its youth, who are highly educated but have no future. Their awareness of their position is heightened by seeing the rest of the world through Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

I am hopeful that these developments will open up a new path of peaceful and democratic change in all countries with oppressive regimes, such as Iran, Bahrain, Yemen, Jordan, Syria, and Algeria. Nevertheless, the forces against change are still extremely strong in those countries. I believe that in Egypt, the military will not give up power so easily to the people, if at all. Military governments do not have the best track record with human rights and democracy. I fear that the military or the next government will continue on the same path that it has for the last 30 years maintaining the status quo. Even if this does not happen, the transition toward a government with free elections will be highly difficult especially without a constitution, which must be carefully drafted with input from the people. I am skeptical that the military has any such plan to include the people’s aspirations. However, I still have hope in my heart that Liberation Square has a symbolic meaning for the future.