(Washington, DC 11/24) It takes a real pharaoh to build a pyramid, especially one that lasts five thousand years. It took President Mohamed Morsy of Egypt one speech for the Egyptian public to see him for what he aspires to be – a new pharaoh, with powers beyond those of his predecessor Hosni Mubarak. On Thursday, November 24, Morsy stood in front of a government building and announced a de facto dictatorship. (Image: llee wu)
The two key provisions of his decree concern a new constitution for Egypt and his absolute powers. There can be no challenge whatsoever to “all constitutional declarations, laws and decrees” made by Morsy until the new constitution is ratified and a new parliament has been elected. Then, he gave himself this blanket guarantee of absolute power until the next election: “The president is authorized to take any measures he sees fit in order to preserve and safeguard the revolution, national unity or national security.” Egypt Independent, November 22
In effect, Morsy has set himself up to dictate the terms of the new constitution. His political organization, The Muslim Brotherhood, is at the center of that process. This will assure that the political arm of the Brotherhood, the Freedom and Justice Party, will end up firmly embedded in power for perpetual rule.
Self-Proclaimed Idol with Feet of Clay
Morsy’s rationale for the dictatorship declaration concerns Egypt’s courts. He fears that the courts will obstruct the development of the constitution and the new Egypt promised by the revolution.
Morsy is an unmitigated, unashamed liar. Egyptian courts are the only reason he is in power. In a May, 2011 pre-election poll (see chart below), Morsy was tied for dead last with the Nasserist Dignity Party candidate. The two leading candidates, ahead by 24 and 20 points respectively, were removed from the ballot by Egyptian courts. For good measure, the courts removed the Nasserist party candidate as well.
Turnout for the presidential election was very low, around 20%. Morsy got 51% of the vote. He rules with the vote of just 10% of the electorate. Egyptian courts handed Morsy the election by clearing the field of candidates who would have buried him at the polls.
Morsy isn’t afraid of the courts. He fears the public. Egypt’s independent (and illegal) unions were the foundation of the Tahrir Square demonstrations that resulted in Mubarak’s removal. Morsy’s Muslim Brotherhood sat that one out.
Since Mubarak stepped down, 200 independent unions have emerged with two million new members. In April and May of this year, there were over 250 labor actions in protest of substandard wages and the failure of the government to legalize independent unions.
Morsy did not deliver for the unions by legalizing their organizing efforts and right to strike. He also failed to deliver on any form of economic improvements. Egypt’s economy is in tatters and the IMF is at the door.
The United States and Great Britain have a long history of striking deals with Morsy’s Muslim Brotherhood. These efforts make sense to policy makers at the time but rarely seem to work out. Who knows what is going on between the Obama administration and Morsy? The real question centers on how long the Egyptian people will tolerate this type of dictatorship. Based on reports from Cairo, time may be running out for the new pharaoh and his henchmen.
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