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Monday, 18 June 2018

No clear solution for Egypt’s political deadlock

As the government ultimatum to pro-Morsi supporters to end their sit-ins expires, Egypt's political fate remains in the balance

Salma Shukrallah, Saturday 10 Aug 2013
Rabaa sit-in
Supporters of Mohamed Morsi stage sit-in at Rabaa Al-Adawiya Mosque in Cairo (Photo:Reuters)
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Views: 5997

As the Muslim Brotherhood continues to reject the army-backed roadmap for political transition and with negotiations between the Islamists and the government reaching a deadlock, the coming phase of Egypt’s political development remains foggy.

Expressing that they will not budge, supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi mobilised on Friday nationwide, repeating a scene the country has grown all too familiar with.

The two main Brotherhood sit-ins continue to block the Rabaa Al-Adawiya crosspoint in Nasr City and Al-Nahda Square in Giza.

Marches tour the city every other day, blocking off several main roads in the greater Cairo area.

Nevertheless, the interim presidency and government insist nothing will block the new political roadmap.

On Thursday, the eve of Eid El-Fitr, the holiday following Ramadan, the presidency announced the criteria for choosing the 50-member committee that will examine amending the 2012 constitution.  

The 2012 constitution, suspended as part of the Egyptian Armed Forces' roadmap for Egypt’s future, was a major bone of contention among anti-Morsi protesters against Morsi who hit the streets in unprecedented numbers 30 June.

In the speech Interim President Adly Mansour gave on the eve of Eid he insisted: “Some think they are able to stop history from moving ... or to challenge your will for a deserved promising future. This will never happen.”

Ultimatum for Brotherhood sit-in

Interim Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi announced at the end of Ramadan that the Brotherhood sit-ins would no longer be tolerated and would be dispersed.   

El-Beblawi said the only reason the sit-ins had not been dispersed earlier was out of respect for the holy month of Ramadan.

Expectations are high that the sit-ins will be dispersed after Eid, which ended Saturday.

Security forces have already intensified their presence around the Rabaa Al-Adawiya sit-in, according to eyewitnesses.

The sit-in's media centre told Ahram Online that increased security forces are seen in all surounding streets, including Yousef Abbas Street, El-Tayaran Street, Abbas Al-Aqad Street and Salah Salem Road.

Central Security Forces (CSF) trucks are also stationed close by. Army and police helicopters frequently hover over the area. 

Ahram Online reporters also confirmed that police checkpoints are stationed around the sit-in, searching many passing cars.  

Negotiations fail

El-Beblawi's statements on ending the sit-in after Ramadan came following announcements that negotiations with the Muslim Brotherhood have failed.

Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei — who frequently reiterated his insistence on ending the current political impasse through a political solution — had repeatedly stated that if the Muslim Brotherhood refuses to cooperate and insists on escalation, violence may be an inevitable outcome.

The last attempt made by police at the end of July to disperse a pro-Morsi crowd triggered clashes that left around 100 killed.

Still, the National Alliance in Support of Legitimacy, the Islamist umbrella group that organises the sit-ins, maintains the only acceptable political solution would be to reinstate Morsi and the 2012 constitution.

On Saturday, Ahmed Maher, the founder of April 6 Youth Movement founder, a group that supported Morsi for president in 2012 before withdrawing confidence in him months later, blamed the Brotherhood for the current political stalemate and called on the group to end their sit-ins.

"Everyone who tried to find solutions admitted that it's the Muslim Brotherhood who refuse all compromises and seek escalation, insisting on the one impossible condition, which is reinstating Morsi as if the [30 June] revolution never happened," Maher stated.

Maher added that the Brotherhood's “stubbornness” and “denial of reality” would result in further public hatred against the group — an outcome that would not be in the Brotherhood's favour.

Possible scenarios  

With uncertainty tainting the political scene, scenarios for expected developments vary.

While the sit-in is expected to be dispersed any time, some say a deal is still in the pipeline.

If a deal is reached, its repercussions will differ according to how satisfactory it is for the differing political players. If no agreement proves possible and the sit-ins are dispersed, the situation is likely to escalate further.

The Muslim Brotherhood publicly insists that its starting point is Morsi's return to power. Privately, however, some pro-Morsi protesters say that the sit-ins are their last bargaining chip to press for the release of detained Brotherhood leaders and for guarantees that the Muslim Brotherhood and affiliated Islamist currents will be included in politics in the future.

A Brotherhood source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Al-Ahram’s Arabic website Friday that negotiations have not reached anywhere, but have not necessarily failed either, adding that the main problem is the insistence of the armed forces on not releasing all detained Brotherhood leaders.

The source explained that the ruling regime agreed to release all jailed Brotherhood members except strongman Khairat El-Shater and ousted president Mohamed Morsi.

Although the government offered to unfreeze the assets of detained Brotherhood leaders and to continue to recognise the group, El-Shater refused the offer unless all those detained are freed, the source added.

However, another source close to the negotiations told Al-Ahram Arabic news website that a deal has already been reached. The Brotherhood, according to the agreement, would drop its demand for the reinstatement of Morsi as president - and stop calling for the return to the 2012 constitution and Shura Council. In return, the current regime would gradually release detained Brotherhood leaders, unfreeze the group’s assets, allow the Muslim Brotherhood to gain legal status under a soon-to-be-issued NGO law, and continue to recognise the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party. The two sides concurred, according to the same source, that it would be mutually beneficial for them if the Brotherhood did not immediately join the cabinet.

Above all, the two sides were in full agreement on the necessity of putting an end to the current bloody standoff, according to the source. In fact, the Brotherhood vowed during negotiations to instruct its members at the sit-ins not to resist the authorities if police uses water cannons and teargas to disperse the crowds.

However, Emad Gad, a political analyst at Ahram Centre for Strategic Studies and member of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party,  was skeptical that the government and the Brotherhood could actually reach a deal because "the Brotherhood refuses all political solutions."

According to Gad, the Brotherhood's aim is to prove that the ouster of Morsi was a "coup," and to push for guarantees that the group's leaders would be not be held legally accountable [for any crimes] and that their assets would be unfrozen.

"Several [Brotherhood] leaders face serious charges ... and if the government does not apply the law, this would mean that the state has no authority," said Gad.

A deal is not possible at the moment, and the state has no choice but to forcibly disperse the Brotherhood's sit-ins, Gad concluded.

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12-08-2013 09:15pm
A clear solution for Egypt’s political deadlock
This looks like a bigger place than Al-Adawiya yard filled with people who want the Gulf state sponsored military coup to be dismantled. I suspect a few Tahrir "democrats" are now having a second thoughts too.
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11-08-2013 01:25pm
Recall option for presidency
In a revolutionary situation, people's preferences change quickly. Morsi lost the confidence of many of those initially supporting him during his first year in office, giving the military legitimacy to perform its coup. This could well happen again after the next presidential election. Maybe, after a revolution, the president and parliament should only have a one or two year function period. But that could create instability as well. Egypt would maybe be better off with a parliamentary system, like Germany and Britain, but given its likeliness to continue its tradition with a strong presidency, there should be a recall option. This is inscribed in several constitutions, for instance that of California. The electorate in that state can force a gubernatorial recall election by collecting signatures from 12% of the number of votes cast in the previous election.
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Ahmed M Ibrahim
11-08-2013 08:39am
Al Azhar's Mediation
The crisis in Egypt will unnecessary prolong unless a lasting solution is found. But Human Right Groups and Western politicians will further complicate the matter if they are allowed to interfere, as their own intentions are not sincere with regard to Egypt. The only other alternative is the venerable Grand Sheikh of AlAzhar who has the authority, qualification and competence to mediate and pronounce a suitable and judicious solution. If the MB combine remains adamant then the Interim authorities have full right and the backing of the entire Islamic world to break the back of mischief makers and end their menace for all times to come.
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11-08-2013 03:09pm
Pls stay away from politics Sheich Al Azhar
Dont you understand that everything that is built on illegitimacy is illegitimate! There is no room for dialogue with the illegitimate cabinet. Using force to remove an elected president is against the law. BTW Sheich Al Azhar has not the right to speak in name of the egyptian people, as he is not elected and is nothing else than a marionette of Mubarak, cfr. his fatwa gainst the demonstrators in Tharir during Jan revolution and his fully support for Mubarak.

11-08-2013 06:03am
Shame on you Bardai
Mr Baradai did not run election let the the MUrsi to run and win now he is acting as an elected president making decisions what to do not to do. Mursi did not topple the demonstrator in tahrir when you were demonstrating some one has to give ULTIMATUM TO SISI the way he did to MUrsi. Shame on you
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10-08-2013 11:52pm
Army is too dishonest to carry out genuine democratic process.
the coup makers and installed officials can't be trusted to carry out an honest democratic proccess. The armed forces, the de facto rulers of the country, are too dishonest and too mendacious to lead a genuine political process, These people are biased in favor of the anti-Islam secular camps. And the yhate Islam too much.
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10-08-2013 09:36pm
Propaganda War
This sort of speculation and propaganda is being published by Ahram & other Pro Coup biased egyptain media outlets for last more. Whole world know that all anti coup islamists leaders have detained by the Army to blackmail the islamists but they failed to achieve their goal. Repeatedly publishing this sort of article shows desperation of the Army and media. Egyptian people will never surrender to the coup despite all your lies and dirty propaganda. Egyptians are ready to sacrifice their lives but never never bow down
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11-08-2013 05:06am
You got it all wrong
Egyptian people went out with numbers that the world has never seen before. In fact they broke every demonstration record with well over 30 million protesters, far exceeding mubarak. All that in order to purge the tyranny that you support. When you say the egyptian people they have clearly went out (in the millions) and showed they do not want thugs and religion dealers to control them. God bless the egyptian people and their military. The thousands of MB sheep are "thousands" vs the millions of egyptians
Loay Saeid
10-08-2013 11:45pm
Not a coup.
Guess what, when so many people demonstrate that the demonstration become the biggest demonstration in history, that doesn't make it a coup

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