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December 2, 2012

Morsi’s mediocre leadership unacceptable

Dr. Mohamed Elmasry

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(Cairo) Egyptians, those who voted for him and those who didn't, had hoped that Mohamed Morsi would lead their country on the road towards democracy, economical development and social justice ('ash, horia, 'adalah egteemia); the three objectives of their revolution. Egyptians never expected miracles but they were right to expect from Morsi short and long term plans, a road map with milestones, and an accountability mechanism for their elected president to deliver.

Instead they got from Morsi on that black Thursday of November 22, almost two months before the second anniversary of their peaceful revolution of January 25, 2011 which they were proud of, decrees to consolidate his powers. Now Morsi has absolute executive, legislative and judicial powers.

Moreover, Morsi has granted himself immunity from judicial oversight along with vague new powers to protect the "goals of the revolution" which he has already started using via his newly appointed top prosecutor to harass opposition leaders including Dr. Hosam Isa, the world renowned professor of law and one of the leaders of the revolution. The charge was “insulting Morsi and attempting to topple his rule.”

Except for his party, the Muslim Brotherhood, and few other supporting groups, Egyptians were greatly disappointed and angry.

Violence broke out across Egypt’s main cities and protesters torched the MB’s offices and called him "a dictator" and "a pharaoh" who has given himself more powers than the ousted president, Hosni Mubarak.

In Cairo protesters marched on Tahrir Square, in scenes reminiscent of the January 2011 protests that eventually toppled President Mubarak calling on Morsi to resign. They were determined to protect their revolution against a new tyranny, this time it is Morsi and his MB. They chanted asking for "bread, freedom and the downfall of the Murshid" – the Brotherhood's Supreme Guide.

Mohamed ElBaradei, the one-time presidential candidate and a Nobel Laurent said that Morsi had appointed himself the "new pharaoh." "Morsi today usurped all state powers," he wrote. Mr. ElBaradei rightly added that the move was a "major blow" which could have "dire consequences".

However, Morsi said addressing a crowd of MB members outside the Presidential Palace on Friday that the declaration had been made to safeguard the future of the nation. "We are, God willing, moving forward, and no one stands in our way," he said. "Victory does not come without a clear plan and this is what I have," he added.

What is most interesting is that the US has not criticized Morsi for his anti-democratic decrees but instead called on all sides to resolve their political differences peacefully. Observers commented that the MB perhaps delivered the decrees to Hillary Clinton to get her blessings during her recent visit to Cairo.

But Koert Debeuf, a representative of the EU Parliament based in Cairo said that Morsi has “now has more power than Hosni Mubarak. The way to democracy cannot pass through dictatorship.”

"There has been a danger of political chaos in Egypt. So in a certain way maybe he was trying to avoid that by issuing the declaration. But by doing so he has created even more chaos," he added.

Dr. Osama Al-Gazaly Harb, a prominent political scientist and an opposition party leader who was one of the leaders of the revolution wrote in Al Ahram on Saturday that Morsi has succeeded to divide the country into two camps, a minority group which is led by the MB and includes extreme Muslim fundamentalists and a majority group which includes everyone else. He predicted that if this division is not addressed soon, Egypt could slide into a civil war.

Egypt’s judges called for a nationwide strike on Sunday to protest Morsi’s decrees and more strikes are planned at the time of writing.

Morsi decrees also stop Egypt’s Supreme Court from ruling on the constitutionality of the current committee which is drafting a new constitution – the ruling was due on December 2.

The Islamist-dominated body has been working under the threat of dissolution due to a number of court cases examining its legitimacy. Many of its members walked out objecting to the draft constitution's Islamic bias and clauses regarding women's rights and sharia law.

But if the current draft of the constitution is put to a referendum it will certainly pass as the MB and other extreme religious parties will simply call anyone who would say no a sinner.

As result, Egypt will have a new constitution which does not have the approval of the opposition parties, the Church, academia, lawyers, judges, journalists and women groups.

Morsi’s decrees would also result in a dangerous political instability that will negatively impact tourism and both local and foreign investment. As a result, the country will suffer from more poverty, more unemployment and less government spending on health care, education and R&D.

Morsi has two choices, to recant his decrees or let Egypt enter a long era of political conflict, even a violent one.

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