In the course of just four months, we have been flooded with initiatives to resolve the political crisis in Egypt, with seven reconciliation proposals on the horizon. However, they lack the ability to be implemented, as those proposing them are no more than public figures who are not in a decision-making position nor are they politically powerful with popular support. This would have made them a counterweight to the brutality of the government, which would frighten those in power and force them to take the proposals into consideration.
Among the seven initiatives are two from within the government, and one from one of its associates, while the other four are by those who describe themselves as neither military nor from the Muslim Brotherhood.
These initiatives are similar in that those proposing them are aware of the severity of the situation in Egypt, the price of which is being paid by the people due to the military coup and the government’s policies emerging in the political, economic and security sectors; in fact, every aspect of life.
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However, the question here is whether the government senses a true crisis in order for it to respond to these initiatives, as it controls the army and police and it has a grip on all of the authorities, including the executive, legislature and judiciary. Furthermore, the media is not free to do what it likes and the entire world recognises the regime and has given unprecedented international support to it, especially the US and Israel. There is also regional support, especially from the Gulf, which very generously provides financial aid. What, then, would prompt the government to accept these initiatives proposed from a weak party that possesses nothing and is in no real position to challenge its authority?
I believe that the government does not feel there is a true crisis and that everything is going according to the plan. I also think that it believes that the true crisis is faced by the elites, who suddenly found themselves excluded from the scene after they played their roles very well in the 30 June 2013 coup. The army rode over them on their tanks to seize power while they provided the civilian veneer for the rest of the world to see.
They are now looking for a role for themselves and are unable to live far from the media spotlight and chaos. These initiatives are nothing more than a media show. The most recent was presented by Ambassador Masoum Marzouk, who participated in the 30 June play and supported the military coup. He was a former Sa’ka Forces officer who participated in the October 1973 War and is affiliated with the Nasserist trend, but he doesn’t have a popular base on the ground backing him. As such, his initiative is more farcical than serious.
After speaking about his love for Egypt, Marzouk called for a popular referendum on whether the current government of Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi should continue to govern. If a simple majority — 51 per cent — agrees to the continued rule of the regime, this would be considered as a popular endorsement of its credibility and agreement with all of its policies. The whole electorate must respect this decision.
He then stipulates that if a simple majority rejects the continued rule of the government, then this would be a constitutional declaration under which the work of the current constitution stops and Al-Sisi’s mandate would end. The House of Representatives would also be dissolved and the government would resign. The country would be run by the Governing Council for three years.
The transitional council would have 13 members representing the Supreme Constitutional Court, the Council of State and political parties not cooperating with the current government, in a balanced manner. It would take power through the Council of Ministers, to be appointed by it, and prepare the country for presidential and parliamentary elections beginning in the last month of the third year of the Council’s term.
Anyone who has participated or contributed to the public mandate of a government institution or parliament in the ten years preceding the referendum would be banned from participating or being appointed to any public office over the ten years following the end of the transitional council’s term.
If the government decides not to approve of this, it must bear the consequences of the complete closure on the political horizon and what that might entail. In this case, a popular conference would be held in Tahrir Square to study the next steps on Friday, 31 August 2018.
This is a summary of the most important clauses in Marzouk’s initiative. When you read it, you feel that if Al-Sisi ever wanted to write an initiative to ensure the stability of his rule, then this would be it. Apart from anything else, wouldn’t it have to be his government which would supervise the elections; a government whose ballot-rigging skills are enviable, backed by a politicised judiciary which follows his orders?
How strange that the transitional council proposed by the initiative includes these fraudulent judges that Al-Sisi chose and appointed himself. It is ironic that the president of the Supreme Constitutional Court is the one who staged a coup against the constitution and democratically-elected president and supported the military coup in 2013. He appointed the president as a formality for the country in order for the military to rule behind his back and use him as a mask to rule in his name. He is also the one who ruled in favour of Saudi Arabia regarding the Tiran and Sanafir islands. Funnily enough, the person proposing the initiative, Ambassador Marzouq, went on a hunger strike the day that the ruling about the islands was made public, because they are Egyptian territory.
To add more ridiculousness to the scenario is the fact that Marzouk has called for a gathering in Tahrir Square. Will the government allow people to stage a mass meeting there, when its brutal hands show no mercy and always pull the trigger indiscriminately? It killed thousands of people during the demonstrations held after the coup in the famous Square, and detained thousands more.
This initiative — or is it simply another attempt to deceive us? — simply aims to legitimise the government further and deepen its roots in the pillars of the deep state.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.