Tahrir Square on February 12th. Photo: sierragoddess. flckr
A step towards or away from democracy
The ‘Arabic Spring’, also called the ‘Facebook/Twitter Revolution’ brought down many regimes in the Arab World. The wave of revolution started in Tunisia, but spread as a wildfire to North Africa and the Middle East. Protests have taken place in 20 states. However, only two countries overthrew the regimes which have led to elections being held 2011 in Tunisia and Egypt.
After the revolutions demonstrators were faced with the question of what they want to change. In both countries the answers to this question were namely: justice, freedom and democracy, but on the population’s own conditions.
The Tunisian President Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali resigned in January after having ruled for 23 years. As an aftermath of this, a lot of resignations and strikes occurred, and new governments were formed.
Most Tunisians are satisfied with the results of the election, but there are many who are worried that the rule of the new government might not lead to a path of democracy. Since elections are to be held next year for a proper parliament, An-Nahda’s government will probably try to do everything in their power not to lose their voters.
Aljazeera on February 11th. Hosni Mubarak steps down. Photo: it is on. flckr
On February 11, Vice President Omar Suleiman announced that Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year regime had ended and he turned power over to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF). SCAF leaders have always been an integral part of the old regimes and the organisation controlled a significant proportion of the Egyptian economy.
During the Revolution, the demand for Emergency Law was a key point. The SCAF promised to lift it by September 30 but later postponed the date to June 2012, which generated much protest. The Emergency law has, ever since 1981, been used as a tool by executive power to circumscribe the population’s human rights.
In September, a video of a policeman and army persons, who tortured two prisoners, was spread on the internet. In October, a 24-year-old man was tortured to death by prison guards. In both cases the principals found out innocent.
SCAF promised a quick, six-month transitional period to democracy but they have governed since February. The period of military rule can go until 2013 depending on the outcome of the elections. Surely, SCAF is not the only part in this situation, who attempts to reach democracy. Not everybody wanted Mubarak to resign and there are still people who are loyal to the old regime. For instance corrupt businessmen fear to lose their wealth and members of the National Democratic Party are not willing to participate in the new era that arises. These people’s aim is a counter-revolution, in order to bring back the former rule.
Egyptian Parliament consists of two chambers, the lower and the upper houses. They will start the legislative elections for the Lower House; the People’s Assembly in three stages in the end of November until January and then the Upper house, the Shura Council elections run from January to March. Moreover, the two chambers will draft the constitution together and they will further on hold a referendum about the constitution. Finally the presidential election may continue on to 2013.
Egypt’s largest and oldest political organisation, the Muslim Brotherhood has the greatest chance to win the elections, but it was banned from political activity under Mubarak’s regime. In June, the party was recognised as the “Freedom and Justice Party”. Issam al-Aryan, member of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s Guidance Bureau and the vice president of the Freedom and Justice Party said that their aims are “…civil state, based on Islamic principles – a democratic state, with a parliamentary system, with freedom to form parties, press freedom, and an independent and fair judiciary”.