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Egypt: Judiciary, Political Rivals, Crowds Mobilize against Pres. Morsi

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  • Ed Pearl
    This is the most comprehensive analysis of the situation I ve come across. I m assuming it s the most accurate, as Cole often provides. -Ed
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 26, 2012
      This is the most comprehensive analysis of the situation I've come across.
      I'm assuming it's the most accurate, as Cole often provides. -Ed

      <http://www.juancole.com/> http://www.juancole.com/

      Egypt: Judiciary, Political Rivals, Crowds Mobilize against Pres.
      <http://www.juancole.com/2012/11/egypt-judiciary-political-rivals-crowds-mob
      ilize-against-pres-morsi.html> Morsi


      Posted on 11/25/2012 by Juan

      The executive order issued by President Muhammad Morsi of the Muslim
      Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party last Thursday has thrown the country
      into substantial turmoil, with demonstrations, clashes and civil strikes
      throughout much of the country.

      The struggle against Morsi's 7-point executive order is being fought on four
      levels:

      1. Morsi's rivals for political power, Amr Moussa, Hamdeen Sabahi and
      Mohammed Elbaradei, have formed a committee to monitor the situatio,
      according to Alarabiya television in Arabic. There are some reports that the
      Muslim Brotherhood is planning to file charges against them (of treason?
      corruption?; if so that would be very bad and a big further step toward
      dictatorship). Leaders of parties such as the Wafd, the Ghad (Tomorrow), the
      Socialists, and etc., have come out against Morsi's move.

      2. The judiciary has mobilized, including many judges and attorneys. The
      judges
      <http://www.egyptindependent.com/news/judges-rise-against-morsy-s-power-grab
      -announce-strike> have declared a court strike all over the country. Some
      judges are coming to the capital for a big judicial congress. The public
      prosecutor fired by Morsi, Abdel Magid Mahmoud, has filed a lawsuit against
      the president. Euronews has a video report <http://youtu.be/WBqBhDPHOa8> :

      In a political blow to Morsi, his own Justice Minister, Ahmad Makki, said
      <http://www.egyptindependent.com/news/justice-minister-agrees-judicial-reser
      vations-trusts-president> that he agreed with the reservations of jurists
      about the sweeping character of Morsi's decree. He said he trusts that the
      president had good intentions, wanting to move along the drafting of the
      constitution and the democratic process. Makki will likely play a major role
      in mediating between Morsi and the enraged judges.

      3. The iconic Tahrir Square protesters are back in the square and are
      planning a 'million-person march' for Tuesday. On Sunday morning, there were
      clashes between them and police at Qasr al-Aini near the downtown offices of
      the American University of Cairo, with protesters pelting police with
      stones. They chanted, "The people want the fall of the regime," and "Fall,
      fall, the regime of the Supreme Guide" (a reference to Muhammad Badie, the
      <http://themuslim500.com/profile/dr-mohammed-badie> leader of the Muslim
      Brotherhood, who they assume is ordering Morsi to act this way). Here is raw
      footage of the <http://youtu.be/fbL_JE8brjo> Tahrir area on Saturday:

      The difficulty that the young revolutionaries may have in allying with
      Egypt's legal establishment (most of them had been pro-Mubarak) was
      illustrated Saturday night when they threw out of Tahrir Square the head of
      the country <http://www.almasryalyoum.com/node/1266091> 's Lawyers' Guild,
      who was protesting Morsi but was considered too close to Mubarak for the
      taste of the other demonstrators.

      4. Anti-Brotherhood political forces in the provinces are attacking Muslim
      Brotherhood offices and rallying to support the court strikes. On Saturday,
      there was a virtual war in the streets in the provincial Delta depot city of
      Damanhour. The Muslim <http://www.almasryalyoum.com/node/1266206>
      Brotherhood said 14 of its members were injured defending the HQ of the
      organization from foes who wanted to burn it down. Earlier on Saturday
      demonstrators had cut off the rail line through the town. The courts in
      Damanhour also recessed with no indication of when they would be in session
      again. Here is video: <http://youtu.be/0UQgipDuTAg>

      Morsi has a rural power base in the Muslim Brotherhood and among many who
      voted for him despite not being members of the Brotherhood. But in the Delta
      there are a number of traditionalist Muslim towns hostile to the Muslim
      Brotherhood (think of traditionalists as like Catholics and the
      fundamentalists as more like Protestants). And, his critics are more
      powerful in the capital itself, and so far during the Arab Upheavals it is
      the capital that has made the final decision.

      The controversy centers on Morsi's attempt to exempt both himself and the
      originally 100-member constitution-drafting body, the constituent assembly,
      from judicial review by Egypt's higher courts. The president says that the
      constitution will be finished by March 1, and that when it comes into effect
      he will give up any powers he has assumed in favor of the constitutional
      ones. Another issue is his dismissal of the public prosecutor and
      appointment of a new one, close to the Muslim Brotherhood. But this latter
      step, while it has angered the legal establishment in Egypt, isn't where the
      New Left seems to be making its stand.

      Although Morsi's former rival for the presidency, Ahmad Shafiq, maintains
      that <http://www.almasryalyoum.com/node/1265991> there is no such thing as
      a temporary dictatorship, there is actually no real reason to doubt that
      Morsi will submit to the new constitution. As Ellis
      <http://nisralnasr.blogspot.ca/2012/11/drafting-constitution-part-ii.html>
      Goldberg points out, it is to some large extent modeled on the current
      French constitution, except that the draft actually reduces the president's
      powers in favor of the prime minister. And, far from being above the law,
      the president in the draft constitution can be overruled by a simple
      majority of both the new senate and the lower house. Judicial officials will
      name candidates to judgeships, with the president choosing the final
      awardees of these posts- and while he has wide latitude to choose among the
      names presented, he is limited by the nominating committee, composed of
      independent jurists.

      From Morsi's point of view, the struggle is over the autonomy of the
      Constituent Assembly now drafting the constitution, which Morsi appears to
      have feared might be dissolved by the supreme administrative court (just as
      it dissolved the elected parliament last fall). Putting the work of the
      Constituent Assembly beyond the purview of the courts ensures that its
      Muslim Brotherhood majority can shape the future of the country. What is odd
      is that I am unaware of any big demonstrations centering on the Constituent
      Assembly or its draft constitution.

      How to understand the vehement reaction against Morsi's executive order? I
      think it is because, like Shafiq, many Egyptians do not trust him to give
      back powers once he has acquired them, and so they fear that he is
      refashioning himself as a dictator. When Morsi took power, he promised not
      to try to legislate or to impose things on the country, aware that in the
      absence of a legislature or a constitution, people in Egypt would be touchy
      about anything that looked high-handed. He has abandoned that earlier
      caution, most unwisely, and now does look high-handed. Some of his critics
      fear he plans to reinstate the parliament elected in fall, 2011, which the
      courts dissolved on the grounds that the Brotherhood and the Salafi Nur
      Party illegally ran party candidates for independent seats. A Muslim
      Brotherhood president with a Muslim Brotherhood parliament would place a lot
      of power in the hands of the fundamentalists, and they would be curbed only
      by the secular courts and the military, both of which Morsi is attempting to
      defang- raising the specter of a one-party state.

      _____

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