7 reasons why I am against the Disfranchisement Law

There is a huge debate over the newly voted-in disfranchisement law right now, one which I believe to be critical to the future of this country. Given that I have demanded from day one that such a law to be formed, I find it very strange to find myself opposing it now. I am writing the reasons for this opposition right here, because I sincerely wish for someone to be able to refute the argument that I’ve reached. I understand that writing this article could cost me dearly amongst many circles, and that conveying such an opinion would come with a heavy price, so please give me the courtesy to save any judgments until you have read it all. Here are the 7 reasons why I am against the disfranchisement law:

  1. It is a self-serving law for the MB that uses the revolution as its cover: This law, while being in the revolution’s wish list for a year now, was something that the MB had no intentions of implementing at all, despite repeated calls for it, due to the understanding that they have had with SCAF. This understanding, coupled with their majority, got them to turn their backs on the revolution at some very crucial moments, focusing their energies at consolidating their powers and not take any real stand with the revolution that would hinder their attempts to recreate the old regime in their image. They took a a neutral position regarding the Maspiro attacks, despite its horrifying and sectarian indications, and then ran for parliament on a completely sectarian platform; they didn’t stop their campaigning or join the national call to delay the elections for one week when the Mohamed Mahmoud Incidents took place and Egyptians were dying and injured by the hundreds; they completely turned their backs on aftermath of that event, alongside with the events of the Egyptian Cabinet sit-in, and the PortSaid massacre and the renewed clashes that took place after it as well, and refused to allow the questioning of SCAF’s members in Parliament; when they were faced with mounting anger due to their continued betrayal in their quest for power, they had the audacity to propose a law that would make protesting illegal and protesters thugs; Last but not least, the constitutional committee fiasco, where they sidelined everyone and attempted to fully control the constitution writing process, to create a constitution to their liking and not one that represented all of us. For them the revolution had served the purpose of getting them to power, and they were so completely disinterested in any of the revolution’s demands that didn’t serve them. Then Omar Suleiman decided to run a few days after Khairat ElShater announced his candidacy, and they realized that they are in grave danger of losing all the gains that they amounted, because they didn’t want this competition to their candidate. Knowing that they can’t overtly just ban him from running, they decided to use the revolution as a cover for their self-serving purposes. And I don’t know about you, but given what they have done, I am done helping the MB in any capacity to increase their powers, and I am disgusted that they have the audacity to use protecting the same revolution that they betrayed time and time again as the excuse and cover for their self-serving goals. They made their bed and they can lie in it.

     

  2. It is a tailored law for one person: When the revolution called for this law, they wanted it to set the foundation of a new era by sidelining all the symbols of the old regime from the political landscape until the revolution stands on its feet. This included NDP parliamentarians, officials and members, Mubarak’s Cabinet members and people associated with the Presidency. All of those, including Ahmed Shafiq, Mubarak’s Prime Minister, were deemed not to be a problem for the MB controlled Parliament, until Omar Suleiman threw his hat in the ring. So they tailored the law specifically to ban him from running, and in order to avoid that problem, they added two words that would include Ahmed Shafiq as well, but vetoed adding to that list Mubarak’s ministers or symbols or NDP parliamentarians, because 1) Adding the ministers or symbols would mean that Amr Moussa wouldn’t be able to run, and Field-Marshal Tantawy would have to be removed immediately from his position, since he was Mubarak’s defense minister and Vice-Prime-Minister; 2) Adding the NDP parliamentarians would mean disqualifying many MP’s inside the current Parliament to the point that the parliament could be dissolved and a new parliamentary elections would have to be held, and they wouldn’t be likely to maintain their prized majority; and 3) Who wants all of this headache when the real sole purpose of that law is to ban Suleiman from running anyway? Needless to say that in this context the law proposed is not only an abomination of the law we wanted, but also unconstitutional, and can- and will- be easily struck down in court. Why support it then?

     

  3. It is a very dangerous Precedent to set: The greatest indicator of the NDP’s corruption has always been their tendency to tailor laws that favor them over their competitors. Given that this law was only proposed the moment Suleiman announced his candidacy and is aimed at removing the MB’s main competition for the Presidency and no one else, they are literally walking in the footsteps of the NDP. If this precedent is allowed to be made and succeeds, thus paving a smoother path for their candidate to their presidency, there will be nothing stopping them in the future of making laws that exclude other competitors, such as non-islamist parties or their candidates from running against them, since they do have the parliamentary majority- and possibly the Presidential powers- necessary to enforce their will and choose their competition Iran-Style. This time they are protecting the revolution from the Mubarak figures running against them, next time they will be protecting the Islamic revolution from the secular infidels running against them. There is, after all, a very valid reason why any elections in which an Islamist party has the majority has the tagline “One man, One Vote, One Time”: They usually do anything, legal or illegal, moral or immoral, to stay in power. Why give them the precedent that they would need for that?

     

  4. It shows a magnificent weakness on the Revolution’s part: This law, and the level of hysteria and panic that followed Suleiman’s candidacy amongst the revolutionary forces, juxtaposed with the fierce & solid determination that they showed that forced him out of Power a year ago, is painting a very unflattering picture of the current state of the revolutionaries. Why is there so much fear from the idea of Suleiman running? Why isn’t he treated the same way Ahmed Shafiq is being treated, an out of touch remnant of an old regime that was brought down by the people? Are you telling me that all the political forces in the country, many of which got millions of votes in an election that ended 3 months ago, alongside all the revolutionaries that are against him, are incapable of making the argument that he is the wrong man for the job to the people of Egypt? That all the presidential candidates combined cannot convince their voters or base not to vote for him? What kind of base do they have then? They had an entire year of wooing the public and they are unable to make the case against someone who was in power for 18 days and got ousted by public rage a year ago and hasn’t shown his face since? Why are they not gearing up for the battle, glad to be facing a face of a regime that has brought Egypt down to the sorry state it’s in today? The revolutionary forces destroyed Mubarak in 18 days, why can’t they do the same to Suleiman? Or are they aware that they are so weak, even the MB, that they cannot sway the people combined? Why are they running then? All that they have to do is to destroy the air of invincibility that he has around him and question him on the issues: How, for example, will he be able to bring security back, given that our Ministry of Interior is in shambles, our crime rate is rising due to our worsening economic conditions, and the lower classes are all armed to the hilt now? How will he enforce security using fear and oppression against a population that is a) no longer afraid and b) fully armed? Go out there and stop crime with his own hands? Last I checked he had no superpowers. Why are we treating him like he does?

     

  5. The argument for it doesn’t hold: When the proponent of the law are faced with all the previous points, they usually resort to the argument that if Suleiman was SCAF’s candidate, then they can forge the elections for him, and use article 28 in the presidential elections decree, that state that the decisions and results of the presidential election committee cannot be questioned, to force his presidency on the population that didn’t choose him. Fine, then the problem doesn’t lie in his candidacy per say, but in the article and the process of the elections. Why not change that? And since when is the process in doubt? I thought all the Islamist Parties that hold the majority in Parliament have repeatedly brushed off any talk about election fraud in the parliamentary elections as the bad sportsmanship of their losing election competitors and have declared full faith in the process and the Judges that are monitoring it, and again, this was an election that ended 3 months ago. What changed? Or was the process always corrupt, and it is how they got their majority, and they are now furious that it won’t be used to their advantage? I don’t forsee anyone would ever disagree on ensuring that the process would be less corrupt, more open for scrutiny, and double-checked (system, judges, voter registry, etc..) to ensure that it’s a fair election. Why not do that, instead of just ban the man from running?

     

  6. It doesn’t solve the problem: Even if the law is passed and deemed constitutional and barred Suleiman from running, it still will not solve the systemic problem of his candidacy. The Problem here is two-fold: A) If the presidential election process is viewed as corrupt and a way for SCAF to push through their candidate, then banning Suleiman won’t solve that since they can simply have a back-up candidate ready to push him through the same way; and 2) The Utter failure of all the political forces in the country to provide an appealing alternative to the public to vote for, and thus banning him would increase public anger and dissatisfaction at all the forces that supported his ban, which would cost them dearly in any upcoming elections. If you deny the regular citizen the right to choose his candidate for no legal reason other than the fact that you have issues with him, then next time that same citizen won’t vote for you, and will blame you for any and all mistakes that the other candidate that ends up winning instead of Suleiman will commit. If we are building a new democratic system, then the first step would have to be not to lose the trust of the regular voter, which was the NDP’s most fatal mistake.

     

  7. His Candidacy might be a good thing for the revolution: First of all, his candidacy and popularity should send a signal to the revolutionary forces: you need to up your game quick. It would mean that if the revolutionary forces want to change things, they will need to start offering solutions, instead of always objecting; they would need to present real electable candidates to the public, instead of the pack of lizards that we have running their name; They would have to stop being this disconnected with the public and its concerns, and start presenting a real alternative to the old regime, which until now they haven’t. Secondly, if this is a battle between SCAF and the MB, then it’s a battle that the revolutionary forces should stay out of, since it’s bound to leave the winner, whomever it is, weakened, and thus allow them to renegotiate the order of power in this country. Thirdly, if Suleiman’s candidacy is anything, then it’s a wakeup call for the revolutionaries to get their house in order and unite once again, and there is no unifying power greater than the man that represents to them the epitome of everything they opposed. But instead of taking that wake-up call, they want to hit the snooze button, and continue the foolishness that has mired them since last year. If Egypt deserves better than Omar Suleiman, then this is the time to stand up and prove it, or forever hold their peace.

Comments

  1. Liberal Koshari has a new post: Tahrir Hallucinations: 7 Real Not Hypothetical Questions.

    http://www.liberalkoshari.com/2012/04/tahrir-hallucination-real-not.html

  2. Excellent and well thought of.

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  5. This article would be valid for the elections in 2016-17, but even if I subscribe to its principles, it is too soon now. The democratic revolution in Egypt has not been supported by more than 25% of the people at its peak period…. How many people in the streets in February 2011: 10 millions ? this is still barely 12% of the total population which is deeply conservative. In exceptional period, exceptional measures and the Disfranchisement Law must be enforced and the criminals be judged otherwise you keep the same system running for ever.