Senior UNDP official points way ahead for Egypt out of transition

Dina Ezzat , Sunday 5 Jun 2011

In an interview with Ahram Online, Geraldine Fraser details how a collective leadership is essential for Egypt at this point

South African Activist tips to Egypt

Sharing experiences of transition and soliciting electoral management assistance are important for the management of the current phase between the January 25 uprising and the launch of a new democratic state in Egypt. Even more important at this point, is collective leadership to help move the country forward. That is the opinion of Geraldine Fraser, director of the Democratic Governance Group at the UN Development Programme (UNDP).

Speaking to Ahram Online ahead of the launch, earlier today, of a two-day conference in Cairo on the alternative pathways towards democracy, Fraser, who is also a leading ANC activist in South Africa, argued that the capacity of the political parties to work on the ground and the capacity of people to participate and engage would increase significantly under a collective leadership. By bringing the country together in this way, Egyptian society would be spared from falling victim to divisions at this moment of clear political volatility.

Summing up the potential for moving forward and succumbing to dangers, Fraser stated that "Egypt is in a very fluid situation."

And for Fraser, who served in the South African government for 14 years after years of activism to end apartheid, collective leadership has to be inclusive of all political groups, faiths, and both men and women.

"Inclusivity is essential for participation," Fraser insisted.

For Fraser, Egypt seems to have most of the ingredients necessary to move towards a democracy: there is the will of the people and the commitment of the international community to lend support "upon the request of the Egyptian government." But, she argued, "what appears to be absent is the leader, or rather the collective leadership."

The essential task for this collective leadership, as perceived by Fraser, is to help with the "transition of the current political movement from street politics to political parties."

In the South Africa example, Fraser noted, "we had a leadership collective; there was of course [Nelson] Mandela but there was also the National Executive Committee."

Under a collective leadership, adds Fraser, South Africans managed to bypass disagreements over the drafting of a constitution and worked on the basis of an interim constitution, pending the first election of the two houses of parliament to allow for a permanent constitution to be written.

Moreover, says Fraser, collective leadership is capable of promoting a true national dialogue that can build sufficient consensus towards agreeing on the compromises necessary to formulate a national agenda that reflects the voices of all groups.

Collective leadership, Fraser insisted, has the capacity to integrate the voices coming out of mosques, churches, women groups and community centres to reflect their views so that "everybody would have been represented around the table."

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