Wednesday, June 29, 2005

what comes next ?

This is the second article, written during the last days of February, when everything was still unclear.

28 February 2005

This is a big step forward, but it´s just one of many that has to follow for this to be anything but a imagesaving gesture to keep the external pressure at bay. An answer from the proud nation of Egypt to the state of the union address, that Egypt is indeed on the train of democratization. And at the same time a bone for the loyal opposition to keep them happy.

I would have preferred the first step to be the ending of the emergency laws , in place since time immemorial. The rewriting of the law regulating civil society organizations, followed by the scrapping of the political parties committee. But at least this is good start , and probably the single most significant step on the path of democratization since the decision in 1975 to accept different political trends to compete on the political arena.

If one looks at this in a optimistic way, this will create a momentum that is irrevocable, the pressure will not go away, If Ayman Nour is released in March, then perhaps the outside pressure will yield for a while, when the limelight will be on Lebanon and Syria. It´s not likely though that the opposition will end it´s demands on reform, even tough the opposition is rather week. If the Ayman Nour case doesn't resolve, the pressure will be tough on Mubarak from the outside, but one disturbing factor is that the opposition is not speaking with one voice, the issue of Ayman Nour was not touched upon in the national dialogue, even tough al Ghad was taking part in the talks, represented by it´s vice president. And the matter has not been addressed by any other party leader of the opposition parties, at the same the semiofficial press has portrayed Ayman Nour as an American agent , defaming Egypt in much the same way as with Saad Eddin Ibrahim in the summer of 2000. Perhaps this is the strategy. To discredit and split the only viable parliamentarian party, and at the same time show that the government does not cave in to American pressure, something that always seems popular with the Egyptian people.

To end on a positive note, the President stated in his speech at Menoufiyya University(Where else), said that this step comes at a time of normalization and this democratic reform goes hand in hand with a free press. If that is the case , then I can see more steps coming, the first being the scrapping of the emergency laws and the second the scrapping of the harsh laws concerning the press, both which have been highly criticized.


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