Egypt: Should Abdul Fattah al Sisi Go or Cling?

Published on 18th March 2014

Field marshal Abdul Fattah al Sisi
When he pulled down former president Mohamed Morsi's government, some Egyptians regarded Field marshal Abdul Fattah al Sisi as a liberator. Interestingly, the West, that has always lectured on democracy kept mum. Why did the West abandon the ship in Egypt? Were they tired of meddling into Egyptian internal affairs? Were they ignoring Morsi simply because he was sponsored by the Muslim Brotherhood which is now banned and declared a terrorist group? Did the West want to avert the impasse we are witnessing in Libya after deposing Muammar Gaddafi?  Will the West's silence calm down the situation  in Egypt or complicate it?

To best understand how complicated the situation in Egypt is, one should consider the three players: The majority that is also divided between pro and anti-Morsi; Islamists under the Muslim Brotherhood and the military. Despite their understanding and horse trading, the trio can't reconcile or work together forever given that they have different aims as far as power is concerned.

Pro-democracy demonstrators - mainly youths - want democracy and development. Islamists aspire to erect an Islamic regime while the military want to have a lion’s share in government. The trio might use each other to reach his goal. Again, such a marriage is always a temporary marriage of convenience.

A section of Egyptians opposed to Abdul’s manoeuvres to run for presidency can't be wished away easily or ignored. Such a move was evidenced when some demonstrators took to the streets to voice their opposition to what they see as military machinations to cling to power. They feel that the military has failed by not forming a transition government that would have seen Egyptians re-write its constitution and have a new democratically elected government.

In principle, the marriage between the anti-Morsi proponents and the military will soon hit the rocks. If anything, this point of departure is the source of Egypt's problems. What seems to be a calm aura was just transitional. Abdul’s declaration for extending more grip on power will soon open  a pandora's box for Egypt. The major question is: Who will let go among the trio? Will the military vanquish the voice of the people or cave in and allow a democratically elected government to come in? Will the Muslim Brotherhood be brought into the fold or be left out in the cold? Can the Muslim Brotherhood be brought to the fold without reinstating their deposed president?

Now that the military faces a threat from pro-democracy and pro-Morsi demonstrators, what do we expect? Should we expect anti-Morsi opposition to ascend to power under Abdul? Will opposition leaders such as Mohamed EL Baradei accept this? Does such a divided opposition have what it takes to outsmart the military? Will the opposition be silenced?

Egypt's future is murky especially if all players stick to their guns. It is time that the international community intervened to restore democracy so that people can go on with their business. Failure to return democracy in Egypt will create another pre-Mubarak's fall from power and grace. Is it time for Abdul to go or cling?

By Nkwazi Mhango

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