May 12, 2012

Boycott of presidential elections

Boycott, whether it is commercial or political, does not really work but in spite of me being convinced of that,  I will boycott the Egyptian presidential elections. It is not because I think there is no candidates that are worthy of my vote, actually there is one candidate I would vote for wholeheartedly,  But my decision of boycotting is based on two grounds one moral and the other one logic, both sides of my decision being intimately related. On the logic side, my decision is based upon the fact that Egypt is now stuck with a technically freezed and unsupported constitution, the constitution had been declared frozen by the military on February 11, 2011, to convince protesters to leave Tahrir square promising a new constitution within a set period of time, only that promise was rescinded a few days later to be replaced by a referendum about some of the articles, in order to, according to the decision makers,  keep the ball rolling until a new constitution could be written, discussed and then eventually declared. A twisted referendum was hastily organized and the population was sent to the ballot boxes . Although at the time, it did sound like an amazing attendance still 58.5 of the eligible voters abstained, true it was a well attended referendum in a country where in previous elections, voter turnout has run at less than 10 percent, but still nearly 6 out of 10 eligible voters decided out of fatalism or maybe because they were undecided to abstain, which means that the supposedly 77 per cent of the supporters of the amendments are actually 32 per cent which makes the opposition to that amended constitution 68 %. I know this is a twisting of the numbers and that I am not taking many factors into consideration, but I am trying to simplify to get across the point that the existing "constitution" is not really supported or acknowledged by the population. And alternatively to underline that contrary to some claims by some of SCAF members that the referendum was also giving legitimacy to their power hold after all the majority of the population has abstained and it can be argued that nearly 60 per cent have denied support to this allegation. So what about it? Well , here is where my argument hits, if the "working constitution" is not supported or acknowledged by most then we are missing laws that organize the relationship between the State and the Population therefore any elections or political argument should be put aside until we do have this law that will regulate it all. That's about the logical argument and I doubt it is convincing enough to have many supporters. There are also other logical arguments but then I am not trying to convince anyone.
What about the moral side? To make it short it has to do with my refusal to take part into something senseless, as within the actual context a president will only have a mostly illogical role to fulfill , and that is to preside the writing of a new constitution that would make of him an unconstitutional President and the Parliament will then have to ask for his resignation as his presidency will have become unconstitutional. Sounds to me far too complicated and definitely lacking of any guarantees. I refuse to go and do something as irrelevant as voting for an unconstitutional president.
So what will I do? I will boycott and I hope that "boycotters" or "abstentionists"  will take to the streets on election day and just declare that their choice is not out of laziness but out of a refusal to take part in such a loss of time, and therefore denying any legitimization of any of the results and promoting in the medias such illegitimacy.
In my view the alternative is deciding and declaring a constitution that has real popular support.

May 2, 2012

Personal reading of the Egyptian context

When the social unrest started on January 25th in Egypt the plan was to have big protests. Some by optimism or for propaganda were calling it a revolution. Very few if any, actually expected a big mobilization and I believe sincerely that the mass movement took by surprise friends and foes alike. The violence that took place on that day actually started a snowball effect. Many more joined protesting against the excessive violence used by the Ministry of Interior forces all over Egypt reaching critical mass already by the next day. Ministry of Interior forces were under pressure to keep things under control. After a couple of days on high alert and with all forces of the Ministry of Interior fighting and standing their ground, exhaustion took its toll and somehow they asked for the Military to step in. My theory is that the Military refused to step in  unless they had full control of the situation  refusing to work under an umbrella managed by the Ministry of Interior. Somehow army generals decided it was time for a coup and some agents provocateurs were sent on the 28th organizing and managing the attacks against Police stations changing the "peaceful" protests into violent ones and a lot of the police stations were attacked and burnt down. By the afternoon of the 28th the building of the National Democratic Party was torched down and the control was given to the Military by the then president Moubarak, in the communique it was stated that the Ministry of Interior forces should follow the lead of the Army, and that the Army was now the institution in charge and in control of the situation. The "coup" had succeeded. There was probably a deal brokered that involved keeping Moubarak promising him a seemingly "honorable" exit. Somehow the genuine "protesters" did not buy into that deal and somehow the unrest kept growing. This is when things started to turn sour the opened Pandora box refusing to close. The next logical step was to try and break the protesters and  in order to do that "agents provocateurs" were sent to the streets heralding a campaign of xenophobic propaganda supported by the official media in preparation of what was to become known as the "battle of the Camel",  and that provided a picture that still lingers in the world global consciousness . At the same time the rest of Egypt was also continuing to demand  "Change" and the departure of the "tyrant". Eventually the situation became unsustainable and the president had to step down without any "honorability", in an attempt to return the situation. By then, the majority saw the military as the "savior" and the "safeguard" of the "revolution" following cues by the media that had turned their vest and started to herald the new order. Slowly but surely, the military showed that they were not ready to allow any changes but for the most cosmetic ones. The first promise by the military was to freeze and rewrite the constitution and asked people to leave the square on February 12, by the 13 they cleaned the square by force from those who still hanged on and by the 14th there was talk of a referendum about some of the constitution articles. The result of the referendum was used to claim the legitimacy of the military council as rulers of Egypt. "Protesters" started noticing that there was something wrong about the interpretation  and restarted "protesting". And that has been the situation since April 2011, by the end of November those who believe that the military should go have become a majority and since the military are trying all the tricks in the bag to regain their popularity but with very mitigated success. On the other hand though, "protesters" are still "leaderless" and therefore are still a collection of individuals none of which can reclaim power.