How Democracy Could be Hijacked
By ESAM AL-AMIN
“After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.”
...As the French revolution was unfolding at the end of the eighteenth century, French philosopher and diplomat Joseph de Maistre wrote, “The Counter-Revolution will not be a reverse revolution, but the reverse of a Revolution.” Likewise, the main challenge to Egypt’s revolution is that it could be hijacked by counter-revolutionaries, tied to the deposed regime, who would then reverse the revolution...
To purify the regime, the revolutionaries are demanding that the military council purge many institutions and dismiss many senior people tied to the previous regime. Otherwise, there will be a serious danger that the revolution could be hijacked –applying the same policies and corrupt practices albeit using different characters...
Therefore the pro-democracy coalition is calling on the military council to declare a complete break from the previous regime and appoint an honest and capable individual to lead a transitional government until the elections, one that comprises a cabinet of technocrats, who were never part of any past Mubarak government.
But the military council has been wavering on this demand, preferring to bring about a limited reshuffle by replacing the most corrupt ministers, perhaps with some opposition members who were friendly with the previous regime. This is going to be a major test to the military council, signaling to the public their seriousness regarding the future direction of the country. Meanwhile, this challenge has been faced by the pro-democracy leaders of the coalition, formed to protect the revolution, by vowing to bring millions of people every Friday to Tahrir Square until this demand is met...
about breaking from the past and embracing the goals of the revolution are in three crucial areas. The first challenge is at the security level. The main reason the deposed regime was able to control and dominate the political scene, and rule by instilling fear and repression is because of the state security apparatus, called the Mabahith. Until this apparatus is totally dismantled, there is a considerable threat that the revolution could be reversed, or at least hindered to the point of derailing its main objectives.
Secondly, major figures in the former ruling party, including major corrupt businessmen, are trying to regroup and re-brand themselves as a new pro-revolution and reform party, in an attempt to take over the levers of state power by manipulating the public, using the huge resources at their disposal, and through their internal knowledge of how state institutions operate. For example, the current government, in a plain effort to appease state employees, has offered each worker a fifteen per cent raise in order to carry favor and gain their support in any future elections.
Thirdly, none of the pro-regime media officials appointed by Mubarak to the numerous state print and electronic media boards or outlets, or heads of labor unions, have been dismissed. If allowed to stay in power, they would pose a very dangerous threat to genuine change since, as part of the previous regime, they have every incentive to promote their people to cover up all their corrupt behavior and practices, even as they falsely present themselves in the interim as reformers....
In addition, a central challenge to the revolution will be the external pressures applied by international and regional powers to safeguard their interests and policies, which may diverge from or have a direct conflict with the interests and wishes of the vast majority of the people of Egypt. For instance, Egyptians overwhelmingly want to lift the siege on Gaza that the deposed regime helped maintain. They also want to help the various Palestinian factions reach a re-conciliation and end their division. Both objectives are strongly opposed by the U.S. and Israel.
Hence, the assertion of Egypt’s independence in the face of certain immense Western pressures would represent the ultimate test to the success of this revolution. If the future government of Egypt truly reflects the will of its people in internal as well as external policies, then the revolution has indeed succeeded. If not, then somewhere along the way counter revolutionary elements would have hijacked it, setting the stage for another corrective revolution.
In his farewell address in 1837, President Andrew Jackson said it best when he reminded his people that “eternal vigilance by the people is the price of liberty,” and that one “must pay the price” in order “to secure the blessing.”
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