Archive for category Egypt

High turnout in Egyptian constitutional poll

Voters to decide on a package of constitutional reforms in the first election since Hosni Mubarak’s overthrow.

19 Mar 2011

Millions of Egyptians have turned out for today’s constitutional referendum, the first vote following the overthrow last month of Hosni Mubarak, the country’s long-serving president.

Voters are deciding on a package of nine amendments, about half of which deal with the conduct of elections. One would make it easier for independent candidates to run for president; another would re-establish judicial oversight of elections.

The amendments were drafted by an eight-man constitutional committee, which was appointed by the ruling military junta. They must be approved or rejected as a bloc.

There were early reports of high turnout, with voters in some districts predicting an hours-long wait before they would be able to cast their ballots.

“This is an historic day for Egypt,” said Yahya al-Gamal, the country’s prime minister, after casting his vote in Cairo. “I have never seen such large numbers of voters in Egypt. Finally, the people of Egypt have come to realise that their vote counts.” Read the rest of this entry »


People’s Call for Regime Change – Part 1

By NH Chan
17 February, 2011

(The People’s Judge reflects on the turmoil in the Middle East – a people’s revolution inspired by the power of the new media on the internet such as Facebook and Twitter – and the lessons for us in Malaysia. He ends with a personal note of his own political awakening, and a call to action for all of us who care for this country.-

The uprising in Egypt, the uprising in Tunisia,the uprising in Yemen and even in Jordan there are rumblings in the kingdom. The message is clear. The people do not want their dictators.

And what is the difference between kings, dictators and oligarchs? They are all totalitarian regimes – this means a system of government consisting of only one leader or party and having complete power and control over the people.

But the people do not want that kind of government; they want democracy – this word means a form of government in which the people have a say in who should hold power; they do not want despotism. And this wish of the people could only mean that they want a government of the people, by the people and for the people which is what a true democracy actually is.

In other words, they do not want repressive rule in any shape or form. They want human rights. They do not want draconian and oppressive laws.

In short, they do not want to live under a perennial state of emergency because all emergency laws are only excuses for tyranny. They also want freedom of speech and a free press. Read the rest of this entry »


Mubarak speech pulls plug on Tahrir Square party

(I stayed up to watch Mubarak’s live telecast at about 5 am Malaysian time, expecting to see a peaceful Egyptian Revolution on-the-make but Mubarak’s speech and demeanour filled me with great sadness with the premonition that a tragedy is to befall the great Egyptian people. Kit)

The Malaysian Insider
Feb 11, 2011

CAIRO, Feb 11 — Joy turned to despair and then anger in Cairo’s Tahrir Square yesterday when President Hosni Mubarak’s dashed the hopes of hundreds of thousands of Egyptian protesters demanding his resignation.

The huge crowed squeezed into the square danced, sang, chanted and waved a sea of red, white and black Egyptian flags as a sense of expectation mounted through the afternoon that Mubarak would meet their demands to give up power.

“Tonight he leaves, tonight he leaves,” sang some, their confidence growing steadily through the afternoon as news reports suggested Mubarak would step down.

Rumours were rife. Some said he would leave to Germany, others were confident he would go to the United Arab Emirates.

Protest organisers painted Egyptian flags on the faces of those arriving. Tahrir Square seemed to be hosting a carnival more than a protest. Read the rest of this entry »


Egyptian opposition cautious after vice-president Suleiman opens talks

Government offers concessions to groups including Muslim Brotherhood – but critics say proposals do not go far enough

Chris McGreal in Cairo and Julian Borger in Munich
The Guardian
Monday 7 February 2011

The Egyptian government has offered a series of concessions at the first talks with opposition groups, including the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, in an attempt to end the mass pro-democracy protests across the country.

But opposition leaders said that Egypt’s vice-president and longtime intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman, did not go far enough in his proposals for greater political freedom and pledge of free elections.

In Cairo, demonstrators again packed Tahrir Square to demand President Hosni Mubarak’s immediate removal from office as a prerequisite for any deal, undermining the government’s attempts to get people back to work because of the huge economic losses caused by the crisis.

While the mood was relaxed in the square for much of the day on Sunday, with even a wedding taking place, the army fired warning shots after dark in an apparent confrontation with some protesters. There are concerns that demands by the military to remove barricades blocking roads are a move towards breaking up the demonstration.

A government statement said that Suleiman, who is apparently playing an increasingly powerful role, agreed to a number of measures including the formation of a committee of political and judicial figures to oversee changes to the constitution which would scrap provisions that limit the ability of the opposition to run for the presidency. Read the rest of this entry »


What Mubarak must do before he resigns

By Hossam Bahgat and Soha Abdelaty
Washington Post
Saturday, February 5, 2011


As Egyptian citizens and human rights defenders, we have been on the streets here, including in Tahrir Square, since Jan. 25 to demand dignity and freedom for all Egyptians. There is nothing we want more than an immediate end to the Mubarak era, which has been marred by repression, abuse and injustice. We are heartened by the international community’s shift from demanding “restraint” and “responsiveness” to echoing our call for Hosni Mubarak to step down and for an immediate transition toward democracy.

But for a real transition to democracy to begin, Mubarak must not resign until he has signed decrees that, under Egypt’s constitution, only a president can issue. This is not simply a legal technicality; it is, as Nathan Brown recently blogged for, the only way out of our nation’s political crisis. Read the rest of this entry »


Withdraw sedition charge against Shuhaimi – first step to demonstrate Najib can learn from the lesson of Egyptian crisis

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has assured Malaysians that his administration will always put the interests of the people first, saying that the events of Egypt are a lesson for all.

He said in a democratic system “we must give priority to the people” who are empowered through globalization and ICT (information and communication technology).

Najib should show that his administration is capable of learning from the lesson of the Egyptian crisis by winding down and ending political repression in the country, starting with the withdrawal of the sedition charge against Selangor PKR Assemblyman for Sri Muda Shuhaimi Shafie, who is slated to be charged in the Shah Alam Sessions Court on Monday. Read the rest of this entry »


Civil war in Egypt? Hosni’s men, foes fight for every Cairo square

Indian Express
Feb 4, 2011

Menacing gangs backing President Hosni Mubarak attacked journalists and human rights activists on Thursday in an ugly turn in Egypt’s crisis as government opponents pushed supporters out of Cairo’s main square in the second day of battles. Organisers called for protesters trying to topple the regime to fill every square in the huge capital on Friday.

The new vice president, widely considered the first successor Mubarak has ever designated, fuelled anti-foreign sentiment by going on state television and blaming outsiders for fomenting unrest. The government has accused media outlets of being sympathetic to protesters who want the president to quit now rather than serve out his term, as he has vowed to do.

The Obama administration, meanwhile, was in talks with top Egyptian officials about the possibility of Mubarak immediately resigning and the formation of an interim government that could prepare the country for free and fair elections later this year, US officials said Thursday. The talks were first reported by The New York Times.

The creation of a military-backed caretaker government in Egypt is one of several ideas being discussed as anti-Mubarak protests escalate in the streets of Cairo and other Egyptian cities, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive diplomatic talks that are continuing. Read the rest of this entry »


Tahrir Square protests: ‘For everyone here, there’s no turning back

‘Booker prize-nominated author of The Map of Love says Egypt’s anti-government protesters are proud of what they have done

by Ahdaf Soueif, Tahrir Square, Tuesday 1 February 2011

A great cry goes up from the square: “Irhal! Irhal!” (Leave! Leave!) Everybody is looking in the same direction. You follow their gaze to see a long banner unfurling, falling gracefully from the sixth-floor balcony of an art deco building. We read: “Do us a favour: leave!” Holding it from the balcony is a young woman with big hair. She is jumping up and down and holding up her hand in a victory salute. The crowd salute back: “Irhal! Irhal!”

Four generations, more than a million people (according to the army count at 2pm) are here. They are all doing what they have not been able to do for decades; each and every one is having their say in their own way and insisting on being counted. Their dominant demand, of course, is for Mubarak to step down.

In the regime’s response to this people’s revolution they have displayed the same brutality, dullness, dishonesty and predictability that have characterised their 30-year rule. They have shot and gassed their citizens, lied to them and about them, threatened them with F16s, tried to foist a “new” cabinet on them – everything except the decent thing: go. Read the rest of this entry »


Egypt protesters react angrily to Mubarak’s televised address

‘How dare he talk to us like children?’ say demonstrators. ‘If he’s here until September then so are we’

by Jack Shenker and Peter Beaumont in Cairo, and Harriet Sherwood in Alexandria
The Guardian, Wednesday 2 February 2011

The crowd had rigged up a huge screen to show al-Jazeera. Mubarak’s speech was broadcast live. As he announced that he would not be standing for another term, the rally exploded in anger.

The screen was pelted with bottles and the cry “Irhal, irhal” went up repeatedly: “Leave, leave”. It was taken up by the hundred thousand people who thronged Tahrir Square. At one point demonstrators held up their shoes to the screen – an insulting gesture in Arab culture.

None of them were appeased by Mubarak’s announcement. If anything, they were emboldened to step up their protests and to push their demands further. Many were saying that not only must Mubarak leave immediately but that the whole of his National Democratic party regime had to go and should be put on trial.

“If he’s here until September then so are we,” said Amr Gharbeia, an activist who is camping out in the square.

“Perhaps this would have been enough to appease people a few days ago but it’s much too late now. He has to leave and he has to leave today,” added Ibraheem Kabeel, a 26-year-old physician.

“This has only made us angrier. He must leave today. He can’t wait until September. Mubarak’s plane is ready,” said Ahmed Defouki, a 30 year old pharmacist. “Everybody here has different opinions politically but on this issue we are united: Mubarak leaves today.”

A new energy infused the crowds. People seemed more excited, sensing that they could bring Mubarak down. Another protester added: “This is the Tunisian scenario, where Ben Ali promised to stand down eventually but was quickly removed.” Read the rest of this entry »


Egypt’s Class Conflict

by Juan Cole
January 31, 2011
The Malaysian Insider

JAN 31 — On Sunday morning (January 30) there was some sign of the Egyptian military taking on some security duties. Soldiers started arresting suspected looters, rounding up 450 of them. The disappearance of the police from the streets had led to a threat of widespread looting is now being redressed by the regular military.

Other control methods were on display. The government definitively closed the Al Jazeera offices in Cairo and withdrew the journalists’ licence to report from there, according to tweets. The channel stopped being broadcast on Egypt’s Nilesat. (Al Jazeera had not been able to broadcast directly from Cairo even before this move.) The channel, bases in Qatar, is viewed by President Hosni Mubarak as an attempt to undermine him.

Why has the Egyptian state lost its legitimacy? Max Weber distinguished between power and authority. Power flows from the barrel of a gun, and the Egyptian state still has plenty of those. But Weber defines authority as the likelihood that a command will be obeyed. Leaders who have authority do not have to shoot people.

The Mubarak regime has had to shoot over 100 people in the past few days, and wound more. Literally hundreds of thousands of people have ignored Mubarak’s command that they observe night time curfews. He has lost his authority.

Authority is rooted in legitimacy. Leaders are acknowledged because the people agree that there is some legitimate basis for their authority and power. In democratic countries, that legitimacy comes from the ballot box. Read the rest of this entry »