Egypt’s future is full of uncertainties but also with opportunities that can affirmatively transform the region for good.
After all said and done, Mohamed Morsi has finally been sworn in as the first democratically elected president of Islamic Egypt. The journey to the presidency was not sown in roses, President Morsi ‘s political party Muslim Brotherhood was banned for decades on Egypt political scene. Then finally came the Arab spring, the Egyptian revolution that swept off the old order and brought in the present reality.
It will be simplistic to say that Arab Spring was successful but it is more complex than that. Of course, former president Murbark was replaced but the Egyptian strong military was still in charge. The elected parliament was recently dissolved before the presidential election and the military has taken over the legislative duty of the parliament. In addition, a new constitution that will reflect the emerging democratic dispensation has not been written. A secular constitution or something close to that will fulfill the aspiration of the masses yearning for liberty in the emerging democratic Egypt.
President Mohamed Morsi has a lot of work and challenges ahead of him. A steady hand and prudency are needed to navigate through all the stormy weather that is confronting Egypt and the leadership. As of now Morsi is not really in charge, for the military has become his co-presidency.
Morsi has a difficult and complicated but a delicate task of working with military in order assumes the role of a true commander in chief of the armed forces of Egypt. This is not a child’s play for the military is not going anywhere nor are they bowing out of the picture of governance. Morsi needs all the wisdom and prayer to make the military comfortable and secured without undermining the constitution and his mandate from the voters. The people anticipated a true democracy to take hold in the country because of the enormous effort and sacrifice they have made.
Election is not tantamount to democracy, to say that election of Morsi means that Egypt has become democratic is far from the truth. Election notwithstanding, a nation needs a functional constitution that protects the rights of citizens to gather, respect of religion and a constitution that enumerates the balance and separation of power among the branches of the government to become a true democratic nation.
During the campaign Morsi pledged to promote women’s rights and to respect the 1979 Israel-Egypt Peace Accord. Promises can be easily made during political campaign but as one assume the leadership position with its challenges, keeping promises may not be that easy.
President Mohamed Morsi will rise or fall on the style and substance of his governance particularly on keeping the promises he made during the campaign. The 1979 Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty is important not just to the region but to the entire world. The keeping and maintenance of Camp David Accord will show that Morsi is a responsible leader and a man of his own words. Peace is the most important ingredient and condiment needed for the stability of the region. Therefore maturity of his leadership will be buttressed on his relationship with state of Israel.
President Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood Party must show the ability to manage the Islamic radicals in Egypt and to make sure that minorities including Nubians (Black Egyptians) and Coptic Christians are allow co-existence and their constitutional rights protected especially the freedom for religious practice not given a lip service.
Then comes the economy, Egypt is a poor country with large foreign debt and high unemployment especially among the restive youths. Without a sound economy the emerging democracy may not take a hold and may fizzle away. Democracy is an expensive form of government and cannot thrive in poverty. An empty stomach and poverty can pose a threat to democracy. Therefore it is necessary to have a peaceful Egypt that is at peace with its neighbors which will enable and facilitate free flow of commerce and trade in the region.
The revolution and Arab Spring dealt a blow to Egyptian economy; GDP growth slumped or rather became stagnant and the already weaken national currency was destabilized; capital flight became imminent while attraction of investments were discouraged. Egyptian economy is in bad shape and economic reform is necessary.
President Mohamed Morsi has to convince the global market that Egypt is ready to do business with the rest of the world. He needs Obama administration to ensure that United States foreign aid will continue to flow in. The world will work with Egypt, if she is willing to work with the world. As Egypt respects international norms and her citizens, the peaceful comity of nations will welcome her back.
Emeka Chiakwelu, Analyst and Principal Policy Strategist at Afripol.