FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Morsi Runs the Gauntlet

There’s a scene at the end of Braveheart when William Wallace was being tortured to death. At the height of torture the executioner paused and tried to convince Wallace to pledge allegiance to the king so that he may die a quick death. He said, “It can all end, right now. Peace. Bliss. Just say it. Cry out mercy.”

In pre-recorded televised interview, President Mohamed Morsi of Egypt, made an offer to Egyptians similar to the one presented to Willam Wallace by the executioner. Morsi expressed he was not a dictator and that his absolute powers were temporary, will not be abused and that people should trust him. All you need to do is vote ‘yes’ to the constitution, and this nightmare of a constitutional declaration will all be over.

The constitutional declaration, in which Morsi gives himself dictatorial powers and immunized the Constituent Assembly,  aims to blackmail Egyptians into accept a flawed constitution that infringes on personal rights and cements military control over Egypt.

Despite the two month extension in the declaration for the Constituent Assembly to complete its work, the Constituent Assembly was to finish drafting the constitution in two days. This came after mass protests which the Muslim Brotherhood downplayed a la Mubarak regime.

The recent moves by Morsi, the FJP and the Muslim Brotherhood do nothing but muddle the current situation. Speculations arise over why these measures were taken and what happens next.

The constitutional declaration stated, “No judicial authority can dissolve the Constituent Assembly or the Shura Council.” However this does not mean that the constitutional court cannot rule on the constitutionality of the Constituent Assembly. The verdict is expected on 2 December. Morsi may have overlooked this loophole much like he underestimated people’s reaction to granting himself all powers unquestioned. If a verdict against the Constituent Assembly is delivered before its work is done, it would mean that the Constituent Assembly is unconstitutional but cannot be dissolved.

This race against time could mean that Morsi will call for a referendum on the drafted constitution before 2 December 2012 to pre-empt the court ruling. Talks about protesting this Saturday in Tahrir or elsewhere may well be a diversion. Another reason to rush and call for a referendum is to hamper street movement. The ballot box has been successful in November of last year to end mounting protests against the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) and a referendum may produce similar results.

Judges may be an obstacle because of their strong opposition against the recent constitutional declaration and lead to a partial strike. However one possibility is that Morsi will bargain with judges and make concessions to the judiciary and perhaps retract parts of the constitutional declaration in return for monitoring the referendum. If they do not accept, the referendum could very well not be monitored.

It is important to note that the president’s absolute powers may continue even after the referendum. Morsi may use his powers to target and eliminate major opponents of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP). Ideally this can be done in the days between voting on the referendum and announcing the results. Once opposition is weakened, FJP can run in ‘free and fair’ elections and once again find ourselves in a perpetually oppressive state. In the unlikely case that people vote ‘No’ for the constitution, Morsi will retain his dictatorial powers and run the gauntlet once again.

The question remains whether such a scenario can be achieved. The way the constitution does not reflect the aspirations of the Egyptian people. Many integral forces that represent Egypt are absent including the churches. Sentiments of resentment to the Brotherhood rule are deepening as Morsi’s rule has alienated a broad spectrum of Egyptian society. Protests can escalate to violence and nationwide strikes. But even if the Brotherhood manage to pull off this stunt despite huge opposition, the one thing that is certain is that this constitution will be a stillborn.

Wael Iskandar works at Al-Ahram and writes a blog at  Notes From the Underground.

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
September 21, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Laquan McDonald is Being Tried for His Own Racist Murder
Brad Evans
What Does It Mean to Celebrate International Peace Day?
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Hurricane Florence and 9.7 Million Pigs
Nick Pemberton
With or Without Kavanaugh, The United States Is Anti-Choice
Andrew Levine
Israel’s Anti-Semitism Smear Campaign
Jim Kavanagh
“Taxpayer Money” Threatens Medicare-for-All (And Every Other Social Program)
Jonathan Cook
Palestine: The Testbed for Trump’s Plan to Tear up the Rules-Based International Order
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Chickenhawks Have Finally Come Back Home to Roost!
David Rosen
As the Capitalist World Turns: From Empire to Imperialism to Globalization?
Jonah Raskin
Green Capitalism Rears Its Head at Global Climate Action Summit
James Munson
On Climate, the Centrists are the Deplorables
Robert Hunziker
Is Paris 2015 Already Underwater?
Arshad Khan
Will Their Ever be Justice for Rohingya Muslims?
Jill Richardson
Why Women Don’t Report Sexual Assault
Dave Clennon
A Victory for Historical Accuracy and the Peace Movement: Not One Emmy for Ken Burns and “The Vietnam War”
W. T. Whitney
US Harasses Cuba Amid Mysterious Circumstances
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
Things That Make Sports Fans Uncomfortable
George Capaccio
Iran: “Snapping Back” Sanctions and the Threat of War
Kenneth Surin
Brexit is Coming, But Which Will It Be?
Louis Proyect
Moore’s “Fahrenheit 11/9”: Entertaining Film, Crappy Politics
Ramzy Baroud
Why Israel Demolishes: Khan Al-Ahmar as Representation of Greater Genocide
Ben Dangl
The Zapatistas’ Dignified Rage: Revolutionary Theories and Anticapitalist Dreams of Subcommandante Marcos
Ron Jacobs
Faith, Madness, or Death
Bill Glahn
Crime Comes Knocking
Terry Heaton
Pat Robertson’s Hurricane “Miracle”
Dave Lindorff
In Montgomery County PA, It’s Often a Jury of White People
Louis Yako
From Citizens to Customers: the Corporate Customer Service Culture in America 
William Boardman
The Shame of Dianne Feinstein, the Courage of Christine Blasey Ford 
Ernie Niemi
Logging and Climate Change: Oregon is Appalachia and Timber is Our Coal
Jessicah Pierre
Nike Says “Believe in Something,” But Can It Sacrifice Something, Too?
Paul Fitzgerald - Elizabeth Gould
Weaponized Dreams? The Curious Case of Robert Moss
Olivia Alperstein
An Environmental 9/11: the EPA’s Gutting of Methane Regulations
Ted Rall
Why Christine Ford vs. Brett Kavanaugh is a Train Wreck You Can’t Look Away From
Lauren Regan
The Day the Valves Turned: Defending the Pipeline Protesters
Ralph Nader
Questions, Questions Where are the Answers?
Binoy Kampmark
Deplatforming Germaine Greer
Raouf Halaby
It Should Not Be A He Said She Said Verdict
Robert Koehler
The Accusation That Wouldn’t Go Away
Jim Hightower
Amazon is Making Workers Tweet About How Great It is to Work There
Robby Sherwin
Rabbi, Rabbi, Where For Art Thou Rabbi?
Vern Loomis
Has Something Evil This Way Come?
Steve Baggarly
Disarm Trident Walk Ends in Georgia
Graham Peebles
Priorities of the Time: Peace
Michael Doliner
The Department of Demonization
David Yearsley
Bollocks to Brexit: the Plumber Sings
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail