Point-blank: New republic

Mohamed Salmawy
Saturday 19 Feb 2022

The “new republic” is a term we hear frequently these days. Is there, indeed, a new republic in Egypt?

Some point to the development mega projects, such as the highway, bridge and overpass networks and the urban renewal and expansion projects that are visibly transforming the face of the country as never before. But that is merely the infrastructure for the new republic which, in fact, should be based on investment in people and the establishment of a new way of life for them.

President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi stressed this point when he launched the concept during his opening address to the Ministerial Conference of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation on Women in July 2021. That occasion, he said, confirmed the birth of “the new republic which is open to all, without distinction or discrimination, and based on the principles of democracy, justice, equality and citizenship.”

We should bear in mind that, in choosing this name, the president averted a futile debate over whether the new republic was the second or the third. In one numbering system, Abdel-Nasser established the first and Sadat ushered in the second with his political and economic reorientation and the 1971 Constitution.

According to others, Nasser’s and Sadat’s regimes were two eras in the same republic. All agree that the Mubarak regime was an extension of Sadat’s and its outlooks. As for the rule of Mohamed Morsi, that was but a brief transitional that the people did not want to take root. But there is no doubt that, on July 2013, a new republic was born by dint of the historical break marked by the dual grassroots uprising that overthrew Mubarak in 2011 and Muslim Brotherhood rule in 2013. Then the constitutional referendum in 2014 established the new legitimacy. 

The new republic immediately set out to build vitally needed infrastructure, as well as to modernise healthcare services, address the needs of youth, women and the handicapped, eliminate slums and develop rural areas in the Delta and Upper Egypt. That spirit is epitomised by the Decent Life initiative. But what I am looking forward to is a document embodying the philosophy of our new republic and serving as a compass to orient the state and society in the upcoming period. I wonder what such a document would look like.

*A version of this article appears in print in the 17 February, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.

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