Egypt Cannot Meet Democracy Promises as Local Elections Postponed
Egyptians are still happy with their success after winning the football’s cup of African nations. The two main football teams’ match was postponed to keep the Egyptians excited over the victory while at the back drop, hundreds of Egyptian families are mourning the loss of their loved that sunk in the Red Sea with the deadly Al Salam Ferry. The world is busy with Iran's nuclear enrichment program.
On the other hand, the Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak, quietly takes a decision to postpone the local/municipality elections scheduled for April in a hush-hush manner, using the fact that the people are busy with their football gains and that political reform progress is of no importance as it has always been.
The move was not clearly justified in the news or at the government's end. The decision was taken in a suspicious way.
However, let me tell you a bit about the history of the local councils or municipalities in Egypt. After the military officers of the 1952 coup d’etats took over Egypt, the social order was completely damaged. The trend was to go into centralization, weakening other regions in Egypt to maintain the security grip. People of confidence would take over companies, cities, villages and anything that was one day the citizens’ build or made. So many companies of big names in Egyptian history were completely ruined including one of the biggest industries that were always a source of pride for all Egyptians, the movies industry. Everything was nationalized and officers were hired to run capitalist enterprises built by wealthy Egyptians before 1952 under socialist promises.
Governors, city council members were hired by the centralized government of Cairo, disregarding the local needs of each region/province or what we Egyptians call governorates. The social order before 1952 relied on wealthy families that subsidized services, education places, worshipping places and provided work. The image or the situation was unlike the one drawn by the officers of 1952. It was very normal, especially in Upper Egypt, to find a wealthy Copt family in a village or governorate building mosque for Muslims to pray. At that time, the Copt or Muslim Egyptian was not language, and that also explains having Copt Egyptians as primes ministers when the idea is completelt ruled out now. The idea was a harmonious social fabric for the Egyptian society built on what is now known as "social corporate responsibility". So many wealthy families took over this responsibility without asking the permission of the central government. They were delegated by the people. The benefit of the corporate social responsibility in the different regions of Egypt meant less dependency on the central government, the society is simply what is known today as the civil society and it had strong contribution unlike the silent majority. It was not only economic and social decentralization but also less migration from rural to the urban areas. The reason for the continuous currnt migration, that Egyptians cannot find the same services provided in Cairo in their governorates. The reason is simple, the government appoints civil servants in local councils to meet the needs of people they had never met before. More that 95% of the governors of Egypt’s governorates are military of police officers. Before 1952, people who were overlooking such positions were elected by the Egyptians. Egyptians always made their choices on the person who provides them with services. It does not take the Egyptian too much sophistication to make up his/her mind. A farmer needs his fertilizers and food for his stock…etc. Who believes that Egypt, being an agriculture economy-based country does not have fridge containers to export fresh fruits at least to its neighbors? We have very tasty fruits due to our special Nile Valley soil. Other countries are cultivating their deserts and exporting their products because of the good planning. Our cotton now is exported raw because there are no equipped factories to its processing when we had before the nationalization of the Egyptian capitalist companies built by national Egyptians as Talaat Harb Pasha.
The decision to postpone the local councils’ elections in Egypt is yet another evidence that the government is not ready to giving the ruling to the people. It wants to maintain its security grip on running even remote areas in the country that it knows nothing about its needs. I cannot help not remembering here the government brutal clamp down on Sinai Bedouins after Sharm El Sheikh and Taba attacks. The ministry of the interior arrested randomly thousands of Egyptians living in Sinai, denying them every legal right. They were arrested by civilians in some instances. The government did not know they live in tribes and if there is any crime or felony, the tribal leader is always aware of it and he can bring him to justice. The government showed complete disrespect and ignorance to the traditions and social customs of the Egyptian Bedouins.
The elections would have meant decentralizing the power of the current regime. However, the current regime cannot give power especially after the last parliamentary elections that showed that the regime National Democratic Party’s popularity is only among its members.
The parliamentary elections turnout was 26% according to the ministry of Justice that means that Egyptians did not go vote to choose who to represent them. The Muslim brotherhood members and the government employees were the first to cast their ballots for the National Democratic Party and the Muslim brotherhood. But the silent majority chose home that day.
The Muslim brotherhood won 20% of the Parliament’s seats because of their active members and because they sold justice to the people but not democracy. They have no democratic agenda, for one simple reason that democracy is a western idea. They are the other face of the dictator regime, simply because they have their own agenda that they want to impose on Egyptians. The core of democracy is to let people choose and rule. But the regime and the Muslim brotherhood share their dictatorship blueprints in bringing their imposed agendas. The two of them grew in each other shadows since 1952 and until now.
The National Democratic Party’s decision to postpone the elections is not based on addressing the expansionist plan of the Muslim brotherhood because rigging the elections is an easy duty, but because the regime's party is grooming the son of the president. If the party loses its grip on the country, the consequences might be the undesired.
The U.S. slammed the decision of the Egyptian government, because apparently the Egyptian government is not getting the message. That the U.S. and EU could have curbed the success of Hamas in the Palestinian territories, because they are the donors and the elections’ monitors. It will take the Egyptian regime a while to understand that democracy does not mean appointing itself as the sole decision maker over the people’s lives.
Photo: Egypt President Hosni Mubarak waves to the crowd from behind bulletproof glass before the African Nations Cup final soccer match between Egypt and Ivory Coast at the Cairo International Stadium in Egypt Friday, Feb. 10, 2006. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)