As elections loom, Egypt must unify
The Army and government in Egypt must chart a clear road map for the months ahead. And speaking of a road map, a renewed effort must be made to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, based on pre-1967 borders.
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Despite the concerns raised by these troubling events, I remain optimistic about Egypt’s future. The Egyptians are no longer fearful of their rulers, they know how to demonstrate, and they are determined to change governance. But certain guiding tenets must now be followed.Skip to next paragraph
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First, Egyptian society must focus on its long-term aims and goals. After the historic revolution it is unconscionable for the media to divert people’s energy with triviality and continue with its shallow methods of the past. The country needs to have a constructive discourse on the fundamental issues that matter, such as establishing the principles of the constitution that address religion and governance, revamping the education system, and boosting the stalled economy.
Second, it would be a mistake to unjustly alienate all people who were associated with the fallen regime. This large number of people should be regarded as fellow citizens whose resources and energy should be redirected toward, not against, the building of the future. Egypt cannot afford to have the vital energy of its active intellectuals absorbed by the past or its political leaders consumed by what slice of the “cake of the revolution” they can get.
Securing democracy will require that the significant divergence of ideologies and political alignments that have emerged in recent months must once again be put aside to fulfill the common aim that first united the people: the fall of the system, or iskat al-nizam.
Lastly, but most importantly, the Army and government must chart a clear road map for the weeks and months ahead.
The Egyptian public still highly respects the military, but they are wary that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces remains the main political entity governing the transition to democracy. This fact – and the fact that the supreme council is dragging its feet – unsettles everyone who recalls the machinations of the previous regime that frustrated democratic aspirations.
The best cure for this suspicion is clarity and communication from the supreme council on a timetable for the upcoming elections and where the council stands on a number of issues – the emergency law, the military courts, and the voting of Egyptians abroad. It must also specify how and when the new government will be put in place. The massive demonstrations in Tahrir Square on Friday are continuing. In order to push forward, the country needs stability and security.
One way to bridge the trust gap with the public might be through the establishment of a council of eminent citizens who can mediate between civil society and the governing regime as the transition takes place. In Poland, such a “roundtable” between Solidarity and the military rulers guided the transition to democracy there toward the end of the Cold War.
The present confusion and distrust threaten the advance of the “economic revolution,” or thawrat al-giaa, upon which success or failure of the revolution ultimately rests, and chaos may become unmanageable. For this reason alone we must make the political transition properly and as soon as possible.