Source: Al Jazeera
The removal from office of President Mohammed Morsi portends great excitement but even greater threats to democracy.
The democracy of the street – which 16 months ago led to the overthrow of the longstanding President Hosni Mubarak – is claiming the same kind of people’s victory in the overthrow of Morsi.
There are similarities. Like in 2011, the military’s move against the sitting president was calculated as a response to massive popular protests – the military then and now claim to be operating on behalf of the Egyptian people. In 2011 people in Tahrir Square reached out with flowers to soldiers climbing down from their tanks. Yesterday the throngs crowding Tahrir Square cheered the military helicopters flying over the square.
But there are serious differences, and major dangers. This time, the sitting president was not a US-backed military dictator kept in power by US funding and political support. This time, the deposed president was Egypt’s first democratically and popularly elected president in several generations. This time, when the military deployed armored personnel carriers in the streets of certain neighbourhoods of Cairo, it was only, apparently, in areas known as strongholds of former President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood-based party he represents.
Whether or not the military’s removal of the president constitutes a coup, the removal of a president by force, by the military, doesn’t bode well for Egypt’s fragile, incomplete and already flawed democracy. Where has that ever succeeded? For people’s movements, the take-over by the military of implementation of the street’s demand that Morsi must go, doesn’t bode well for the future of that movement. The situation remains fraught.
Certainly the military did some things right. The announcement by General al-Sisi, the army commander, of the military’s “roadmap” for the post-Morsi period, was quickly followed by statements of agreement and support for the military by a broadly representative group of leaders of key Egyptian constituencies.
They included the head of the Coptic (Christian) church in Egypt; the imam of Al-Ahzar, the thousand-year-old institution known as the centre of Islamic thought in Egypt; Mohamed el-Baradei, the leader of one of the largest opposition movements and former head of the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency; and crucially, a spokesperson for the youth-led tamarrud, or Rebel, movement that had initiated the call for these recent days’ protests.