Political reform in Egypt

Editor’s summary

President Bush takes the position that the development of democracy in the Middle East is a key element in a strategy to fight terrorism. Sounds good, but the question is “How?”

Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif on May 18 deflected the U.S. administration’s push for Egypt to move faster on political reform, focusing instead on President Bush’s praise for the changes that already have taken place in his country, The Washington Times reported.

Also on May 18, former Israeli deputy minister Natan Sharansky told the “Israel Project” think tank in Washington that Egypt may be the next Arab country to move toward greater democracy.

“Right now, the Egyptian government is very weak,” Sharansky said. President Bush, by changing his rhetoric toward Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak’s administration, opened the door for dissidents within Egypt to demand more democracy, Sharansky said, according to a UPI report.

That should be encouraging news to George Isaac, general coordinator of Egypt’s Kefaya “Enough” movement.

Some, including some in the Bush administration, seem to think that Ayman Nour, 41, would bring about a more democratic Egypt if he could be elected to the presidency through democratic elections. Columnist Arnaud de Borchgrave, however, cautions that the administration would do well to take a closer look at Nour’s background, including his staged assassination attempt and a venture to set up an Internet phone service using stolen telephone lines.

On May 25, Egypt is holding a national referendum on a constitutional amendment that would, if approved, allow more than one candidate to stand in presidential elections. Interestingly, the change is endorsed only by the ruling paty. The opposition party opposes the amendment, pointing out that the amendment would require that a presidential candidate receive support from at least 65 of 444 members of parliament. Presently, 90 percent of MPs belong to the ruling party and are not likely to support an opposition candidate for president.

The main legal opposition party is calling for a boycott of the referendum. This was supported by a liberal Egyptian newspaper on May 24.

A pro-government newspaper supported the referendum in an editorial published the morning of the vote.

An Israeli commentator looks at the situation and concludes that the only “change” in Egypt is that it is becoming less important in the Arab world. Mubrarak will continue in the presidency until he dies, this commentator predicts.

Saeed Abdul Razek, chief investigative reporter of Middle East News Agency (MENA), said in an interview that reform will come, but in small steps.

[For articles about political reform in other Middle Eastern countries, click here.]

Please click on the word “Comment” below to leave your comment. Comments must be consistent with the purpose of World Peace Herald to contribute to peace. They will be posted after approval by a moderator, who may edit the text for length, spelling and syntax.

2 responses to “Political reform in Egypt”

  1. I want to know the answer to this question: “Discuss the startegic importance of egypt in world
    politics”. Looking forward for a favourable reply. Thanks.
    ma salam.

  2. It’s not clear to me whether Azeezat Salami is interested in a discussion on the question he poses, or is simply asking for help in studying for some examination.

    A discussion of Egypt’s importance in the world would certainly have to consider its relationship with Israel, its role regarding the Suez Canal, among other factors.