Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Morsi Presidency Begins

Muhammad Morsi's (Mursi's) narrow victory in Egypt's presidential election was better than the alternative.  Had Ahmad Shafiq been declared the winner earlier today, I suspect you would have seen a rapid explosion of revolutionary anger at the effective restoration of the old regime and Islamist frustration at a replay of Algeria in 1991.  There would have been bloodshed, but with half the country having voted for Shafiq anyway, the reconstituted regime would probably have outlasted the protests and gradually reasserted its grip on the country under a "law and order" mantra.

Instead, Egypt's new president is from an Islamist group widely mistrusted for its political scheming, and frankly its agenda, both real and imagined.  Morsi himself has something of a conservative Islamist reputation, having advocated writing into law, for example, that Egypt's president must be a male Muslim.  Field Marshall Tantawi and the SCAF clearly intended the election winner to be but a civilian face on military rule, and one fear I have is that there will be some sort of arrangement where the Muslim Brotherhood pursues a conservative cultural and social agenda while leaving the military to dominate institutional arrangements.

Fortunately, the early signs are that the Muslim Brotherhood has not let go of the institutional battle.  Morsi has reportedly said that he will take the oath of office only before an elected Parliament.  The Muslim Brotherhood used the SCAF's dissolution of Parliament and constitutional decree to bolster their presidential campaign, and it may even have put Morsi over the top.  If they are seeking an accommodation with SCAF, they will not jettison their revolutionary credentials too quickly.  What I would definitely like to see is the appointment of a national unity government that includes a non-Islamist prime minister and representatives of all the major revolutionary trends or factions.  Hopefully the MB will have learned from the fracas over the constitutional committee that Egyptians elected them to supervise a transition, not begin remaking the country in their own image.



Anonymous Sam K said...

Enlightening. Do you think an entirely Islamist regime will result?

10:27 PM  
Blogger Brian Ulrich said...

I hope not.

11:07 PM  

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