Saturday December 20, 2014
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20.12.2014
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Dr. Reuven Berko

The Islamists era

Even before the Egyptian parliamentary elections scheduled for Nov. 28 are held, political forces have been trying to influence the character of the future constitution and parliament. Before the masses go to the polls, these forces, which include the interim government, the army and Islamists, have formulated proposals, some of which are intended to take effect before the elections or influence the electoral process.

Interim Deputy Prime Minister Ali al-Salami submitted a proposal for the future constitution that represents the mutual interests of the army, commanded by Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, and the interim government, headed by Prime Minister Essam Sharaf. Islamist circles, and the masses that support them, interpreted the attempt to implement this proposal before elections as an effort to establish a "civil society" in Egypt. They felt this would create a society in which Sharia (Islamic religious law) is not the focus of government, which aims to dissolve the revolution and drag its feet while granting the army immunity and superiority in its interactions with the government. As far as they are concerned, the reform would afford the army a powerful and anti-democratic constitutional status as a "state within a state," as a safeguard of power in the face of the future government and the Islamists.

For their part, the Muslim Brotherhood, the "Salafis" and the rest of the "forces of radical progress" want to mold the constitution only after the elections, which they are expected to win with a majority. These movements are outraged by opposing proposals from the government and the army, who have not yet even prepared monitoring mechanisms for the coming elections. The extremists view this as a plot to use foot-dragging and delayed elections to perpetuate the mechanisms of control from Mubarak's government.

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Independent candidates, such as Amr Moussa and Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, also joined the demonstrations on Sunday night against the provisional government and the military. They accused security forces of unnecessarily using excessive force against demonstrators, thereby ensuring their populist identification and remaining on the "safe side."

In an effort to calm the masses, officials from the provisional government met on Sunday night with military chiefs. The meeting yielded a reassuring joint statement that elections would take place as scheduled. However, in light of the fact that there is no infrastructure in place for the election process, some are now calling for the government to step down, paving the way for the establishment of a new temporary government that would prepare the necessary steps for elections at a later date.

At the same time, there are fears that the resignation of the current government will create irreversible chaos, and that the popular committees being formed ahead of elections -- most of which are tied to the political opposition -- will take advantage of the current absence of institutional control mechanisms, which would ultimately result in civil war. Meanwhile, "the street" is demanding the resignation of Field Marshal Tawani: another casualty along the path of suffering forged by the Arab Spring.

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