Egypt presidential elections and the continuation of the military coup d’état!
As I am writing these lines, the second round of the presidential elections between the candidate Shafiq, considered by all as the representative of the old regime and the Supreme Council of Armed Forces, and the candidate of the Muslim Brotherhoods Morsi is happening and elections polls are opened throughout Egypt. At 2.30 pm on Saturday afternoon in Egypt, various websites were declaring that turnout appeared to be low across Cairo and in other governorates(http://www.egyptindependent.com/news/live-updates-cairos-voters-display-enthusiasm-ahmed-shafiq, http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/36/122/45037/Presidential-elections-/Presidential-elections-news/Live-Updates-Egypt-presidential-runoffs-between-Mu.aspx).
These elections are being held following few counter revolution measures from the military elite to try to halt the revolutionary process started more than a year ago now. On Thursday June 14 2012, the Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC), composed with judges appointed by the ex Dictator Mubarak, actually ruled that the legislation banning the political participation of certain officials in the Mubarak regime was unconstitutional and overturned it, removing any uncertainty about former prime minister Ahmed Shafik’s eligibility to run for president. Secondly the same court nullified elections for about one-third of the seats in Egypt’s parliament, most of them held by the Muslim Brotherhood. The ruling declared that parliament must now be dissolved until new elections are held. The disclosure of the two rulings was met with harsh opposition outside the court building, and numbers of protesters took to the streets throughout the day and evening.
These rulings were decided in addition to the re imposition of the martial law by the military regime, giving the police and security forces the right to arrest anyone resisting the authorities, halting traffic, damaging buildings or harming government security.
This is without forgetting that few weeks ago Judge Ahmed Rifaat dismissed the case against Gamal and Alaa Mubarak and acquitted the aides to former Interior Minister Habib el-Adly, who were responsible for killing and wounding thousands of Egyptians.
There is therefore no parliament, no constitution, and the SCAF holds both legislative and executive power: this is the situation in which Egyptians are voting today to elect a new President whose functions have still not been determined.
This is not per se a military coup as some have defined these various decisions, simply because Egypt has not been governed by a civilian government since the overthrow of Mubarak by the popular masses of Egypt in February 2011 but by the military elite. These measures are nevertheless definitely very strong and aggressive measures in SCAF’s continuous strategy to maintain power. The SCAF has been since the beginning of the so called transitional process trying to limit and cease the revolutionary process in the country by employing both their political and legal instruments (Constitutional referendum, laws banning strikes, political accusations against opposition groups as being foreign agents and wanting to create chaos etc… measures supported very often by the MBs and/or in which they participated in) on one side and on the other side their repressive apparatus ( Maspero massacre for example and other demonstrations).
Their final move is to push Ahmed Shafik into the presidency in order to restore everything to the way it was before the revolution or at least stops the revolutionary process and limits any further gains for the Egyptian people.
This is why over the past few weeks and until the last day before the elections, the SCAF through its important resources have encouraged people to go vote. Egyptian streets have witnessed military APCs and trucks roaming the streets, handing out statements, and urging the people to vote in the second round as described by Revolutionary Socialists activists Hossam El-Hamalawy (http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/6012/the-troubled-revolutionary-path-in-egypt_a-return-). In addition to this he adds that similar propaganda messages, both explicit and indirect, were aired continuously on the state-run TV. On the day of the election, SCAF reiterated its intention to run a free and fair election. On its official page on Facebook, the SCAF said that it will deal firmly with any attempt to prevent voters from casting their ballots freely.
The SCAF strategy is to maintain by all means possible their political and economic power with a powerless president, and now a dissolved parliament.
The use of the elections is part of the strategy and despite presented as fair and democratic many flagrant irregularities characterized the first round of the presidential elections. In his article, the author and activist Alaa Aswani, describe the way international observers are only present for the interests of powerful countries and not to monitor severely the elections (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alaa-al-aswany/before-you-vote-in-the-se_b_1594890.html). In a meeting with former U.S. President Jimmy Carter who heads the election-monitoring organization, this latter answered Alaa Aswani who raised number of fraud issues in the elections including the buying the votes of poor people with money, cooking oil and sugar and that such instances of vote-buying had been documented in videos available on the Internet, that he sees that as a way to help the poor and it happens in many countries.
This is the situation in which the elections are happening and this is why many parties and section of the popular movement have called to boycott the elections, calls which increased after the two rulings made by the Supreme Constitutional Court ( see the article on the debates after first round of elections https://cafethawrarevolution.wordpress.com/2012/06/04/debates-around-the-second-round-of-the-egyptian-presidential-elections/, the only update is the change in the position of the RS which are now calling for the boycott see http://www.scribd.com/doc/96013479/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B4%D8%B9%D8%A8-%D9%8A%D8%AD%D9%85%D9%8A-%D9%88%D9%8A%D8%B3%D8%AA%D9%83%D9%85%D9%84-%D8%AB%D9%88%D8%B1%D8%AA%D9%87 and http://www.facebook.com/notes/jess-martin/to-the-comrades-rs-discussion-642012/10151028775079224). They refuse to give any legitimacy to these elections organized under the military rule. Several weeks prior to the SCC verdicts, groups of activists have been organizing an electoral boycott campaign known as Muqate’oon (Boycotters), while others have been organizing a ballot invalidation campaign known as Mubteloon (Nullifiers). Among many other things, the campaigns object to holding the election under the rule of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. The Muqate’oon Campaign intends to refrain from voting to withdraw legitimacy from the election, whereas the Mubteloon Campaign plans to invalidate their ballots by crossing out the names of both Shafiq and the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsy, the two runoff candidates.
They also object to the violations perpetrated during the election, and to the far-reaching powers granted to the Presidential Elections Commission (PEC). They are also against the fact that the PEC is withholding the voter database from the public, claiming that such information is confidential. Article 28 of the temporary constitution actually gives the election commission immunity and deprives citizens of their right to mount a legal challenge to its decisions.
The MB’s Presidential candidate, Mohammed Morsi, has on his side declared that he accepts the courts decisions, but is now insisting that a vote for the Brotherhood is the only way that the revolution can be defended from the SCAF offensive. Hundreds youth of the MBs have nevertheless demonstrated in front the office of the party’s Guide to protest against this decision and called t boycott the elections (http://almogaz.com/politics/news/2012/06/15/303059#.T9t2sSGqHYg.facebook).
In addition, according to sources who spoke to Ahram Online, the Brotherhood leadership, is hoping to clinch the top position in the next government, should Mubarak-era premier and presidential finalist Ahmed Shafiq beat Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Mursi in this week’s runoff vote.
“Deep down, nobody is expecting Mursi to win; it has become very clear that the SCAF is supporting Shafiq,” said a Muslim Brotherhood source. “We don’t want to get into a confrontation, but we want to make sure that Shafiq won’t be running the state in the absence of revolutionary forces – this is why we want a strong presence in the next government.”
The Socialist Renewal Current (http://www.almasryalyoum.com/node/900516) and some leftist parties in the West have nevertheless called to vote for the Muslim Brotherhoods as a way to save the continuation of the revolution and in an united front strategy; otherwise the election of Shafiq would mean the end of it.
As posted previously in this blog, we agree partly on their analysis of the MBs that there are not similar to Mubarak regime and SCAF, and that there are contradictory forces inside the party with sections that are in favor of the continuation of the revolution and others that are not (see previous article on policies and dynamics of the MBs https://cafethawrarevolution.wordpress.com/2012/03/07/the-muslim-brotherhoods-force-of-change-and-enemy-of-the-imperialist-west/). But we disagree on their perseverance to call to vote for Morsi (which the RS under the pressure of its popular base abandoned as we showed above to call for the boycott).
There are different reasons for this, but first and foremost because the momentum among the Egyptian revolutionary popular movement is in favor of the boycott, so this would mean taking the people in the streets calling for the boycott back to the right. In addition, the objective in the boycott position is to refuse the legitimacy of the whole transition period masquerade made to serve the interests of SCAF. This latter has shown once again that all powers are in its hands after having dissolved parliament and re imposed martial law. Therefore participating in these elections would only give legitimacy to a process that is illegitimate. We should also consider the momentum of the popular movement, where are the revolutionary forces tending towards? The revolutionary momentum is actually definitely not with voting in favor of the Muslim Brotherhoods, which are only interested in their selfish interests and want to present itself as the only actor to save the revolution, but in the boycott position.
As expressed in a previous article ( see conclusion https://cafethawrarevolution.wordpress.com/2012/06/04/debates-around-the-second-round-of-the-egyptian-presidential-elections/ see conclusion) the battle will not finish with the presidential elections, but through the struggle in factories, universities and neighborhoods throughout Egypt.
The united front strategy, as justified by some on the left to call to vote for the MBs, is not a recipe to use in all occasions mechanically. United front in the streets against the repression of SCAF as explained in the case of the article of comrade Hossam Hamalawy is totally acceptable and normal (http://www.arabawy.org/2012/05/11/the-mod-sit-in-sometimes-with-the-islamists-never-with-the-state/), but there is nevertheless a big difference with calling to vote for the MBs and saying that it this is the way to save the continuation of the revolution. And we can see that actually some youth sections of the MBs have protested against the decisions of their party to continue in the presidential elections, so the role of the left should be to reach them and continue like this the fragmentation of the MBs as a united front strategy supposes it.
We also oppose the calls by some saying only “Don’t vote for the MBs”, as if these latter were similar to Shafiq and the previous regime. This is not the case. The MBs’s were not in power the last 30 years and are not responsible for the past repressions of the regimes and the catastrophic socio economic situation of the country, despite the fact they supported in some occasions in the past neo liberal policies implemented by the Mubarak regime, and were used as a force to repress and challenge the left in the seventies by President Sadate.
We would rather prefer a call saying “Don’t vote for Shafiq” and then let the voters choose whether he or she wants to boycott or casts their vote. This position is radically different than declaring and encouraging people to vote for Morsi, we actually don’t consider him or his party the means through which the demands of the revolution would be deliver and don’t want people to believe that this could be done through voting for Morsi.
The solution to save the revolutionary process is permanent mobilization everywhere. The permanent mobilization of the masses is the only way to protect the revolution against SCAF and the felouls (reminiscent of the old regime) and from any party that wants to limit the revolutionary process whether it is the MBs or any other bourgeois force. This means multiplying strikes and civil disobedience against the SCAF, while creating alternative centers of powers, organizing in unions and co-ordinating the struggles of protesters in the streets with militancy and self-organisation in the workplaces.
The protection of the revolution has to rely on the revolutionary popular movement and more precisely the revolutionary sections of it including the workers, peasants, students, who are today in their far majority calling to boycott the elections and create a true radical alternative to continue the revolutionary process.
Viva the Permanent Revolution