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Legitimacy Of Egyptian Revolution Incompatible With Mubarak-Era Laws – OpEd

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By Mohyeddin Sajedi

The court sentence handed down on Egypt’s deposed dictator, Hosni Mubarak, and his proxies proved once more that the conflict between legitimacy of the revolution and legitimacy of laws bequeathed by the past regime is still in place.

Of course, that conflict shows up in different ways at different times. As a result, the misty situation which has engulfed Egypt for the past 1.5 years is apparently not going to give way to transparency.

Many Egyptians expected a death sentence for Mubarak. However, no such verdict will be handed down by the government which is run by a military council because all members of the council, which should transfer power to a civilian government in a matter of two months, have been appointed by Hosni Mubarak.

Mubarak, his two sons, and his important officials were tried in an ordinary court, not a revolutionary court which derives its legitimacy from people’s revolution.

This development comes on the eve of the run-off presidential election; an election which has apparently no winner. Regardless of whether the Muslim Brotherhood candidate wins, or his rival candidate who is Mubarak’s former premier, none will have enough votes to be considered president of all Egyptians. Such a weak president cannot arrange for the retrial of Mubarak.

Ahmad Shafiq, the last prime minister of Mubarak who finished the second in the first-round election, has promised that Mubarak’s era will never return. Now, Mubarak will go to jail for life and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) has lifted the emergency state to gain people’s trust. Many people in big cities, however, continue street protests considering the court’s decision insufficient. The decision has also enraged the Islamist-dominated parliament of Egypt.

The reason is that the Egyptian revolution has only changed top levels of the government, not the laws. Hosni Mubarak was tried based on his own laws, not the laws of the revolution. About 850 protesters were killed in the Egyptian revolution and nobody has been thus far tried for killing them. Perhaps, a life sentence given to Mubarak and his Interior Minister Habib al-Adli will provide them with a respite to remain secure in prison.

It was according to Mubarak’s laws that several candidates, who stood better chance in the public opinion, were disqualified and his old allies were allowed to run for president. Even Omar Suleiman, the former Egyptian spy chief whose name was enough to scare many people, was disqualified because he lacked people’s backing to take part in the election.

The Egypt is currently ruled with Mubarak’s laws and nobody can talk about former regime because the situation has not changed so profoundly as to be called a new regime. The presidential election has also marred legitimacy of the revolution.

Mubarak’s interior minister has been sentenced to life in jail for having ordered police raid on people while police commanders have been acquitted. Will this not assure the Egyptian police and intelligence officers that in case of any future suppression, they will not be blamed for anything because the political, not security, officials would be held accountable?

Many Egyptians believe that Hosni Mubarak is a traitor both because of efforts to introduce his son Gamal as his successor (who along with his brother Alaa were miraculously acquitted of charges of misappropriating public property), and because of selling almost free gas to Israel and helping Tel Aviv to lay siege on the people of Gaza. Increasing foreign dependence of the Egyptian economy, spreading poverty, restricting freedoms and imprisoning freedom-seekers in the past 30 years can be added to the long list of his misdeeds.

Anyway, nobody can decide for the Egyptian people and their revolution. The confrontation between legitimacy of the revolution and legitimacy of the political system established by Mubarak will set the future course of the country. So far, legitimacy of the revolution has been hit hard at a very important juncture of the country’s history. This happened when the High Presidential Elections Committee crossed out a few candidates after they were disqualified for having been in prison because of their struggles against Mubarak’s government. Party leaders, unfortunately, accepted that logic.

When Egyptian political parties accepted that the main framework of presidential polls should be set on the basis of Mubarak-era laws, most voters (about 56 percent) decided not to take part in the election. Therefore, important candidates who have failed in the first round of presidential polls see no option open to them, but to support the Muslim Brotherhood candidate. At the same time, they are trying to gain some influence in running the country’s affairs by promoting the idea of establishing a presidential council.

The name of the Muslim Brotherhood, on the other hand, will probably go down in the book of records after it practically lost half of its supporters in a matter of five months between parliamentary polls when it won 47 percent of votes, and the first round of presidential election, when the group did not win anything better than 26 percent of votes!

Mohyeddin Sajedi is a prominent Iranian political analyst, Mohyeddin Sajedi writes extensively on the Middle East issues. He also serves as a Middle East expert at the Center for Middle East Strategic Studies in Tehran.

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