As throngs took to the streets for the second act of the Egyptian Revolution, things are looking increasingly bleak for the democratically elected leader of Egypt.
To make things worse, the military leaders announced President Mohammed Morsi has 48 hours to respond to the demands of the people — or the army is taking over.
With the masses calling for his ouster, the military’s demands for reforms, people hanging effigies of him in the street, and with four of his cabinet ministers resigning, little seems to separate Morsi from his departed predecessor, longtime President Hosni Mubarak.
He’s so far resisted calls to step down, or really change anything, saying in an interview with the Guardian:
“If we changed someone in office who [was elected] according to constitutional legitimacy — well, there will be people opposing the new president too, and a week or a month later they will ask him to step down.”
The idea that Morsi is entitled to complete his term no matter how he behaves is an interesting notion of democracy, but one that he should rationalize with the reality unfolding outside of his bedroom window.
“Asking Morsi to resign is not against democratic procedures… None of the revolution’s demands were met, Morsi and the (Muslim Brotherhood) took the country in another direction that mainly reflected their desire to dominate the state, and did not build a democracy (freedom), or managed to improve the living standards of Egyptians and provide their basic needs,” the National Salvation Front, the main opposition group, said.
The notion that the Egyptian people are fickle and indecisive and would oppose whoever was in power is a false one, and it shows that Morsi misses the blunt, simple point behind the protests — he has failed.
When he was sworn in last year, he was handed a mandate along with his executive authority — govern democratically, be responsive to the needs of the people, don’t stifle dissent, and be more accountable than your predecessor.
It is difficult to embrace those optimistic notions of a democratic Middle East that we felt in the spring of 2011, easier to cite the obstacles to change. But Morsi finds himself in his present position not because the people are mercurial, but because of his own inability to govern.
He has quite simply failed to meet the mandate set in the first uprising. Though there’s no doubt he was elected democratically just one year ago, he has failed to govern democratically in any sense, to his own demise.
In allowing the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood to seize control and influence over virtually every facet of the government, Morsi rejected the needs and the demands of the electorate and embraced the same sort of tactics that brought about Mubarak’s downfall.
It started in August of last year, less than two months into his tenure, when he forced the retirement of Gen. Hussein Tantawi, who had led Egypt after Mubarak’s ouster. Morsi then declared himself commander-in-chief. The Egyptian military has remarkable domestic influence, and Morsi needed to partner with them, rather than ostracize them.
By November, he had awarded himself sweeping presidential powers that were not initially outlined in the constitution. They were approved by the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated constitutional assembly.
Morsi even appointed an Islamist with links to killing tourists to be governor or Luxor province, he later resigned amid overwhelming opposition.
Just last month, Morsi sentenced 43 Egyptian and foreign aid workers to prison terms for “working illegally.”
When he ran for president, Morsi pledged to build a “democratic, civil and modern state.” He said he would protect the right to freedom of religion and peaceful protest.
Instead, he has only grabbed for more power and sought to expand the reach of the Muslim Brotherhood within the rule of law. It’s taken just a year for it to catch up with him, and it could all be over in fewer than 48 hours.
It is difficult to guess what sort of concessions he can make in the next 48 hours, but it’s too late for him to become a reformer now. Any action will not be in the interests of the people, but rather a desperate move of self preservation.
He should have listened to his pledges from the campaign trail.
“The presidency will be an institution,” He said last year. “The Superman era is over.”
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