Saturday, July 06, 2013

Yes it was coup!

In the days before Egyptians went to the polls for the second round run off of the first freely contested presidential ballots, the People’s Assembly or parliament was dissolved and the authority for the legislation of new laws was assumed by the then ruling military Junta, known as SCAF. Some Egyptians felt more comfortable voting for the Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsi, knowing that his authority as head of the executive branch would be limited.

While the parliamentary elections were generally seen to be free, their rules, most definitely were not.  SCAF had imposed a strange and highly unusual set of rules designed to tilt the elections towards the two organized forces in the country; the Islamists and the party of the former president Mubarak, the National Democratic Party. The election rules were designed to make it very expensive for any candidate who is not part of an established large national organization to win. A strange mix of district level proportional representation and quota for laborers resulted in very larger districts, coupled with runoffs for those receiving less than 50% of the vote and a system of staggered ballots over a six week period allowing national organizations to campaign in different regions around the country sequentially. Dissolving such a gerrymandered parliament was indeed a good thing, its composition failed to be even remotely representative of the people of Egypt, as could be seen from the sheer size of the ensuing protests.

The coup process started shortly after the election of President Morsi, when he decreed the return of the dissolved parliament, the courts opposed him and he could not impose his will. Few weeks later, the first part of the coup took place; Morsi kicked SCAF out of the legislative role, a move that was widely welcomed by most Egyptians who believed Morsi and wanted to give him a chance, his approval rating was close to 70%. Few voices warned of the concentration of the executive and legislative powers, but Morsi reassured the nation, by promising that he would, only, make minimal use of his newly acquired legislative powers.

Two additional bodies were yet to be dissolved by the slow courts of Egypt, the so called Shura Council or upper house of the parliament, whose election was made by identical rules to those of the dissolved parliament, but with less than 7% of Egyptians actually bothering to cast a ballot, as it had no defined duties or powers at the time of its election. The second body that was also threatened by the courts was the Constituent Assembly, whose membership was based on that of the dissolved parliament. The likelihood of dissolving these two bodies was very high indeed. President Morsi allowed his supporters to lay siege to the Egyptian Supreme Court and its members were unable to enter the court, let alone hold any sessions for nearly a month. A strange way for a democracy to function!

The siege of the court could not continue indefinitely; fearing the eventual rulings by the Supreme Court, President Morsi moved to perfect his coup, he unilaterally assumed super judicial powers in addition to the legislative powers he had assumed in August.  In late November Morsi declared both the Constituent Assembly and Shura Council immune from dissolution by the courts, and he assigned full legislative powers to the Shura Council, which he was yet to name some additional ninety appointed members and he also declared these decisions to be immune from future legal challenge.

At this point it became clear to many Egyptians that the elected president has engineered and executed an unprecedented coup.  This was Egypt’s big coup, a theft of the January 25, 2011 revolution that was most certainly not Islamist, by the Islamists. It was, at that time, that the seeds of the Egypt’s second revolution were sown by no other than the acts of President Morsi himself.  President Morsi was eventually deposed, following the massive demonstration of June 30, 2013 by millions of Egyptians against him and his Muslim Brotherhood.

Considerable debate has taken place on the legal justification of deposing Morsi, was this a military coup or not? Clear as day, it was military coup, but it was carried out at the will of the vast majority of Egyptians who wanted Morsi out because of his own coup against legitimacy and democracy.


July 6, 2013

1 comment:

zulu said...

As I agree with most of your excellent analysis, I still do not agree that the last movement by the army was a coup. The army did not initiate its action. It responded to the will of the millions who took to the streets. Morsi refused any sort of compromise. The army officers did not assume any powers. They were just instrumental to appointba temporary administration.