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By Lucky Gold
Egypt’s Elections: Two Opposing Views
As Egypt prepares for a runoff election to choose its president, Amr Moussa, a candidate in the first round of elections and a former foreign minister under Hosni Mubarak, was asked how Egypt can elect a president, with a new constitution to enumerate his powers.
“In fact that is not my point of view,” said Moussa, speaking from Cairo. “My point of view is that the current constitutional declaration is enough to give the president the power he needs.”
Among those powers, he listed “the period of four years, the right of two terms, the separation of forces, the independence of the judiciary.”
“So I don’t think this is a very important point,” he added. “I believe that the president, once elected, knows exactly the powers he will use. The constitutional declaration is quite enough for the time being.”
And if it proves not to be enough? Said Moussa: “If the need arises, then we’ll deal with that through some amendments. So this is not a crucial point concerning the presidential elections.”
A legal coup
Khaled Fahmy, chair of the history department at the American University in Cairo, took a very different point of view.
He was asked if today’s ruling by the Supreme Constitutional Court, Egypt’s highest, that declared the Egyptian parliament “illegal” and dissolved it on the eve of the election constituted “a soft coup?”
“I actually think it is a ‘legal’ coup,” said Fahmy. “A ‘legal’ coup in the sense that it’s not legitimate, obviously, but it’s a coup through courts, through judges, through the law.”
He was referring not only to the dissolution of parliament but also to a separate ruling that allowed Ahmed Shafiq, Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister, to remain on the ballot to face off with the Muslim Brotherhood candidate.
“This is a coup that reflects the tug of war between the military and the Muslim Brotherhood,” said Fahmy. “This has been in the offing for not only months but years and years.”
He added, “We were thinking that the presidential elections, and prior to that the parliamentary elections would find some kind of a modus vivendi between these two power blocks.”
However, “the events of today, and indeed the past few weeks, have shown very clearly the determination by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to oust the Muslim Brotherhood altogether and to deny it serious victories that it had won legitimately in the ballot boxes.”