Currently the interim secular government in Egypt is busy forging a new constitution. Meanwhile supporters of Mohammed Morsi are still holding protests for him to be reinstated as President. This week more of the protests have turned violent with seven dead.
Yesterday the Freedom and Justice Party—the actual party backed by and that represents the Muslim Brotherhood—stated that they would keep up the pressure with protests. They also confirmed that they turned down offers from the interim government to discuss and reconcile their differences failing to recognize the interim government as a legit one. A march by Islamist protesters reached the Egyptian cabinet that same day. This new cabinet is headed by PM Hazem el-Bebawi and is made up of Christians, women, and secular leaders.
The new government is headed by interim President Adly Mansour and Prime Minister Hazem el-Bebawi. Some degree of legitimacy was added to the government when the U.S and Arab League supported it never mind that Turkey pushed for Morsi to be reinstated. The advisor to President Mansour—Mostafa Hegazy—stated that the interim government was making its way through a course that will see the constitution worked over.
The ETA given for when this process would be done and when proper elections would take place is said to be within a six month window. It was also mentioned that the Muslim Brotherhood and other like-minded political groups threw out whatever offers presented to work with the government or be a part of the cabinet. According to Hegazy, the method for the drafting of the new constitution was to see the different parties and factions in Egypt select a group of constitutional experts with no affiliations to handle the task. On paper it sounds great, but seems to be quite the task to find experts with no affiliation to speak of.
The previous constitution was panned by secular Egyptians because it wasn’t particular heavy on or accommodating to equality and social issues. As expected, it was put through by a heavily Islamist drafting committee—hence the new plan for drawing up a new constitution for the country this time around.
Political advisor Mostafa Hegazy stated, “We’ll be working together to produce a real constitution achieved with genuine public consensus and approval.” Hegazy touched on pulling Islamist, women, Christians, and so on together and reconciling differences.
While all of this is going on, Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton of the EU asked that Morsi be released. In the fallout of the ousting, five more leaders and other members of the Brotherhood were taken in. Not only that, but dozens of pro-Morsi protesters were killed and injured while there were also dozens of accounts of sexual assault and rape from the anti-Morsi protests prior to and during the ouster. The pro-Morsi leaders were charged for instigating violence and murder during the clashes last week. This week seven Islamist protesters were killed in clashes with the police.
On this Hegazy said, “We talk about social equality in this coming period where we will lay out foundations for Egypt, but equality can’t be achieved without genuine reconciliation or justice.”
Protests are expected to continue as long as Morsi and Brotherhood leadership remains out of power and held by security forces. Not only that, but by actively deciding not to participate in this new government in anyway puts the Islamists political factions in the role of antagonists from the interim/secular government’s side and vice versa as being in power and carrying out laws and a system they don’t recognize as legit.
It’s a situation that is likely to escalate as there are so many factions, players, elements, and emotions involved. Even with peaceful protests by the pro-Morsi side there will be groups that splinter off and do what they feel is right or will rally others. Things will get foggy and others could be hurt. The issue of who provoked that particular clash, why they provoked it and the role of Islamist leaders will pop up.
The leaders say there will be peaceful protests and for the most part there have been. However, misunderstandings and the mentioned fogginess of who did what first is what caused the conflict is what will only lead to more conflicts in the future. The security forces will say the protesters got rowdy while protesters will say that security was aggressive and fired on them. It’s a loop, basically.
Also, what happens if after the new elections take place and a new, Islamist president takes over? There’s no guarantee that it won’t happen. Sure the Islamists aren’t playing well with others in this new, interim government, but that doesn’t stop them from running their own candidate. What if that president does the same as Morsi? Will there be more protests—that we hope wouldn’t turn violent—causing yet another loop? Is Morsi flat out banned from running again?
This new constitution will need to address a lot of these issues. The idea of Islamists running for seats can’t be touched. It’s not like they can disband or ban all Islamists and that would be the end of Islamist-leaning political groups. They represent an significant group in Egyptian society and will be a significant part in that country’s politics regardless. However, they can do their best to handle the constitution to take care of the citizens. What happens then is really up in the air.