CAIRO: As thousands head back to Tahrir Square to save the “revolution,” each from their own perceived nemesis, the millions (reluctantly) watching the spectacle on their TV sets might as well have been living in a different time and place. Apathy is a powerful emotion, and one that is increasingly dominating the mood in Cairo.
But this is not the final chapter of Egypt’s so-called transition to democracy, it’s merely one of the early stages of a struggle that will continue well beyond the next 10 years if we’re lucky.
Today, as planned by our supreme military leaders all along, the Egyptian political street is marred by deep fractures, suspicion and a dangerous streak of opportunism that threatens not only the imminent future of the country, but a much more insidious loss of hope which will either manifest itself in irrevocable apathy or deadly violence.
The surprise disqualification of 10 presidential hopefuls including three contentious frontrunners — the Muslim Brotherhood’s Khairat Al-Shater, ex-intelligence chief and vice president Omar Suleiman and firebrand Salafi preacher Hazem Salah Abu Ismail — was at once revelatory and confusing.
Did the unexpected move by the Presidential Election Committee (PEC) mean that it is completely independent of any SCAF pressure, hence the removal of Suleiman? Or is it actually more politicized than we have been made to think, making the decision to remove Suleiman and Al-Shater to conceal the ultimate goal of axing Abu Ismail? Will the seeming independence of the committee be used to debunk claims of potential election fraud, or dampen calls for rescinding Article 28 of the constitutional declaration that give PEC the final say, with no chance to appeal election results at an independent court?
In short, nothing makes sense anymore, at least not according to our conceptualization of the general indications just less than two weeks ago.
Will SCAF really hand over power by the end of June? Why are the generals insisting on finalizing the constitution before the presidential election even though it seems like an increasing impossible scenario considering the collapse of the originally elected constituent assembly and the lack of consensus over the criteria governing the choice of the new one? Hypothetically, even if the new assembly is chosen tomorrow, is it remotely possible for an assembly whose very formation has been so contentious to miraculously come up with its own working mechanism, rewrite the constitution and allow for enough time for public debate before a general referendum in just over one month?
Clearly the wrong path we took from day one has led us completely astray. While its easy to assign blame to our political adversaries, very few are willing to call a spade a spade and unequivocally accuse SCAF of leading the counter-revolution, in fact unscrupulously lying to the Egyptian people on every turn.
Last week General Mamdouh Shahin vehemently slammed the PA’s suggested amendments to the Military Trials Law that would stop the referral of civilians to military trials, would refer those who are still being tried by military court to a civilian one, and give convicted individuals the right to appeal military rulings against them. He even denied that any civilians were tried before military court for political cases.
If this is not proof that SCAF and its generals are the biggest threat to the future of Egypt as a new state built on respect for human rights and the rule of law, what else can it mean?
As a general rule, the generals rule.
And with Article 8 of the shameful Military Trials Law giving immunity to retired army officers from facing investigation by the general prosecution there is little hope that these rules will change soon.
Rania A Malky is the Chief Editor of Daily News Egypt.