Seven Years After Egyptian Uprising

Although General Sissi said he wanted a true election, he didn’t really want competition.

Egypt elections 2018

Seven Years After Egyptian Uprising, Democracy Seems Distant Hope

WASHINGTON – Seven years ago, thousands of Egyptians took to the streets in protest against the government led by President Hosni Mubarak. When Mubarak was forced out of office, and democratic elections put the country’s first civilian leader in decades in office, there was hope for lasting political change.

This week, however, Egypt’s current president sternly warned the opposition that he won’t tolerate their plans to organize a boycott of national elections, after independent candidates dropped out of the race. Now, political analysts say hope is fading.

General Abdel Fattah el-Ssisi won the presidency in the 2014 election, after leading a military coup that ousted his predecessor, Mohamed Morsi – Egypt’s first freely elected civilian president.

Since then, critics say Sissi’s government has engaged in human rights violations, imprisoning journalists and members of the opposition.

“As long as the current regime is not willing to open up the political space, I think we are going to see a continuation of a status quo which is a high level of repression and a kind of parliamentary facade but is really only a facade,” says Shadi Hamid, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

Opposition boycott

This week, several opposition groups joined in calling for a boycott of the March 26-28 election. They called it a charade, after six candidates dropped out. Sissi’s only opponent now is Mousa Mustapha Mousa, the leader of the Ghad political party, which earlier endorsed Sissi’s candidacy.

Amy Hawthorne is the deputy director of research with the Project on Middle East Democracy in Washington. She says that although Sissi said he wanted a true election, he didn’t really want competition.

“The fact that several of these would-be candidates came from the military was even more apparently threatening to him, and so using a variety of measures, and tricks and means, the Egyptian authorities have managed to either disqualify on very shaky grounds these would-be candidates, or has intimidated, threatened and pressured them, their families, their supporters, leading them to pull out,” Hawthorne said.

She says the effort to suppress the opposition is a waste, because many people think it likely that Sissi would win a fair election.

The opposition parties say Mousa is simply running to give the impression of a fair election. Mousa has said he is running to help the country and that he is acting independently of Sissi.

Other regional analysts say Sissi’s control of the government is complete. They say parliament has introduced laws that impede freedom of expression and criminalize civic society activities.

In addition, the Egyptian judiciary has abandoned the rule of law, said Sahar Aziz, a law professor at Rutgers University in the U.S. state of New Jersey.

“By rule of law I mean open and fair hearings by unbiased and qualified judges, a degree of predictability and limitation of arbitrariness of government actions and a level of individual rights and freedoms in accordance with international norms,” Aziz said.

Tolerating Sissi’s government

Dalia Fahmy, an associate professor of political science at Long Island University, in New York state, said the military has tightened its grip over political and social life, and the media. Under these conditions, she thinks it will be very difficult to promote democracy.

“From within it has to be a level of political openness, there has to be the ability for dissidents to congregate, form political parties, a level of political contestation, but more so there has to be a free and vibrant media,” Fahmy said.

Part of the problem, Fahmy said, is that many regional and Western governments tolerate Sissi.

“The international community really needs to hold the repressive regime accountable. We can’t continue this signaling game that you signal one thing to the people and something else to the regime,” she says.

Shadi Hamid said the U.S. administration has shown little public interest in promoting Middle East democracy.

Some in the administration of President Donald Trump say security for Egypt and the region is their primary concern, given the threat of attacks from Palestinian or Islamic State militants. Some advocates of U.S. policy say the administration does support human rights, although discreetly.

“I think that is problematic because terrorism does not fall from the sky; terrorism, extremism and political violence arise from a particular context and if there is a very repressive and closed context, that is actually a more conducive environment for extremism,” Hamid said.

Hawthorne said part of the problem is that many Western countries are exhausted by years of tumult in the Middle East.

She also said that since dictatorships can create temporary stability, many Western governments tolerate them as they focus on short-term solutions. Ultimately, she said, repressive governments fall.

“We can be sure that another wave of change and popular unrest will be coming,” Hawthorne said.

And, she said, it is likely the international community will be unprepared.

Source: by Mohamed Elshinnawi, Voice of America Press Releases and Documents, February 01, 2018
© Copyright 2018 Federal Information & News Dispatch, Inc.

Egypt presidential hopeful removes pro-Sisi Facebook photo

Egyptian presidential hopeful Moussa Mostafa Moussa has deleted his Facebook cover photo that showed his personal support for President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi’s candidacy.

This came shortly after Moussa officially submitted his candidacy documents, just minutes before the nomination deadline expired on 29 January.

The National Election Authority (NEA) is due to formally announce the final list of candidates on 31 January.

Moussa, the chairman of Ghad Party, is now the sole challenger to President Sisi in the presidential race scheduled in March. “Background actor”

On Twitter, the Arabic hashtag “Moussa Mostafa Moussa” has been trending, garnering more than 9,000 tweets.

Many used the hashtag to heap scorn on Moussa, with some describing him as a “background actor” or a “phoney candidate”, especially as he and his party had previously announced support for Sisi to run for a second term in office.

“The background actor Moussa Mostafa Moussa, who is supposedly running against Sisi in the election, is using a cover photo on his [Facebook] page saying he is a supporter [of Sisi]. A candidate supports his challenger!! This is a farce in every sense of the word,” pro-Muslim Brotherhood TV anchor Hossam al-Shorbagy tweeted.

Echoing the same sentiment, user @Radyabdullah4 said: “Another clown to complete the comedy of elections under military rule.”

Another user, @iKhaledYousry, shared a video of Moussa in which he announced his support for President Sisi in the presidential vote. “#Moussa_Mostafa_Moussa supports his rival candidate President Sisi; you will never see this good spirit anywhere except for Egypt,” the user commented.

Source: BBC Monitoring in Arabic, January 20, 2018
© 2018 The British Broadcasting Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

Egypt’s closes door of application for presidency

Egyptian election 2018

Egypt’s National Election Authority (NEA) has closed the door for submitting candidacy applications for the upcoming presidential election scheduled for March, according to state-run Nile News TV on 29 January.

So far, incumbent President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi and Chairman of liberal Ghad Party Moussa Mostafa Moussa are the only hopefuls to contest in the presidential race.

Moussa’s application was supported by 26 endorsements from MPs, surpassing the required limit of 20 parliamentary endorsements.

The NEA is due to formally announce the list of candidates on 31 January. Major challengers quit race

Earlier, several former presidential hopefuls have either been removed from the race or withdrew their bids, citing “violations”.

Last week, liberal New Wafd Party has said it would not field a candidate for the upcoming election. This came during a vote by the party’s Supreme Body on whether to nominate its chairman Al-Sayed al-Badawi in the vote.

Also, Leftist rights lawyer Khaled Ali announced his withdrawal from the election, citing violations against his campaign while collecting citizens’ endorsements.

Ali’s withdrawal came one day after the arrest of another presidential hopeful, the military’s former chief of staff Sami Anan. The military accused Anan of violating military rules by running for president without the army’s permission.

Former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq had also announced he intends to run for president last November, only to rescind his bid earlier in January.

In December, an Egyptian military court sentenced Col Ahmed Konsowa to six years in prison for “violating the military code” after he released a video on social media in which he announced his intention to run for president. Opposition calls for boycott

Several Egyptian opposition figures have called for a boycott of the election, citing a wave of “repression” that cleared the field of challengers to Sisi.

The 2012 presidential candidate Abdel Moneim Abol-Fotouh, political science professor Hazem Hosni, former top auditor Hisham Geneina and former presidential adviser Essam Heggy issued a joint statement on 28 January condemning the atmosphere surrounding the election.

“We call on the great people [of Egypt] to boycott this election completely and not to recognise its results,” the statement read.

Sisi has repeatedly called on people to take part in the vote.

Source: Nile News TV, Cairo, in Arabic, January 29, 2018
© 2018 The British Broadcasting Corporation. All Rights Reserved

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