Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Morsi should Fire al-Sisi

By Biko Agozino
President Mohammed Morsi of Egypt was right in rejecting the ultimatum from the army chief for him and the opposition to reach a settlement in 48 hours or else the army would step in. If the army chief thought that the crisis could be resolved in 48 hours, he must be very mistaken. Talks about being on the side of the people and being ready to die for the people are expected from the military while the defiance of Morsi and his supporters to defend the popular mandate that was won in the election one year earlier is understandable. But there is no need for anyone to die, the ambitious army officers should resign and join political parties of their choice to pursue their leadership goals democratically (as Chavez did in Venezuela after serving time for his attempted coup) or they should be discharged. My recommendations are:

President Morsi should have fired the army chief, Colonel General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, for insubordination following his ultimatum of 48 hours before he toppled the democratically elected president. Morsi should have recalled Parliament immediately for it was never the intention of the voters that he should govern alone and given that as soon as he was sworn in, he did recall parliament but that was blocked by the constitutional court for some reason only for the head of the constitutional court to be imposed undemocratically as an interim president of the country. 

Egypt should initiate a constitutional assembly for the people to rewrite the constitution in line with the South African presidential system with multiple vice presidents and proportional representation; in line with the AU parliament's model 50-50 gender equity in representation if only to help halt the appalling sexual assaults against hundreds of Egyptian women in Tahir Square, apparently attacked by their fellow protesters; and in line with the US model of federalism with city, local government, state and federal levels of elected government protected by a professional military and facilitated by the separation of religion and the state, and by separation of powers, checks and balances among the executive, the judiciary and the legislature.

The US has announced more foreign aid to Egypt to help prevent the crisis from escalating into a civil war but President Obama should consider going beyond the threat to suspend the hefty $1.3 billion annual military aid if there is a coup or a semblance of a coup; it already quacks like a duck. Instead, the US should devote at least half the military aid to the funding of business start-ups for men, women and the masses of talented but unemployed youth as a better alternative to the wasteful spending on Africom and military aid. 

Promising more aid to help shore up democracy in Egypt is a sure sign that the announcement, by President Obama during his Cape Town University address, of a $7 billion package to ‘Power Africa’ is too paltry to make a significant impact. Rather, President Obama should raise his game plan by committing to allocate at least $100 billion yearly as reparations grants to African researchers, artists, farmers, schools, entrepreneurs, communities and for projects that would help to transform Africa for the better. Other countries that benefited from the African holocaust should be invited to contribute to such a reparations fund to enable Africans to fast forward to the African Union Government for the benefit of all Africans and for the benefit of the whole world.

The Egyptian military should support the redistribution of a huge chunk of their military aid to help fight poverty not just because their officers have announced that they are on the side of the people (as is always expected) but because they are not an army of occupation and should always be in support of the democratic mandate of the impoverished people. President Morsi, when he regains his mandate, should also amend the budget to provide annual grants of at least 10% of the budget that will be awarded directly to the people to support the research and development of enterprising ideas. The Egyptian army already runs small and medium-sized enterprises that should be handed over to cooperatives, communities and enterprising individuals.

The solution to a crisis of democracy is often more democracy rather than less democracy. The protesters cheering the military helicopters that flew the Egyptian flag over Liberation Square are not much different from citizens across the world who tend to cheer every military coup until it is clear, too late, that military dictatorship is not the solution to the crisis of democracy. When the people come out to demonstrate en-masse, it is not the crisis of democracy but the actualization of democracy in practice, according to Norm Chomsky.

Morsi deserves the opposition that his administration has earned after one year of a do-nothing one-man rule for he failed to insist on the recall of the elected parliament. However, there is a danger of turning Egypt into Algeria by using the military to fight an elected government with disastrous results for the people. Morsi deserves to be supported to serve his full term as an elected President unless he is recalled in another election but he must stop serving alone: recall the elected parliament now and make sure that 50% of the ministers will be women and representatives of popular organizations! The army is right in pledging that they would not support any plan to subvert the secular constitution of Egypt but the military coup is untenable and must be reversed.

There is no guarantee that the president of the constitutional court, 68-year old Adli Mansour, who was imposed by the military to take over from Morsi will have a magic wand to resolve the democratic and economic crisis at the root of the protests and a new presidential election could still be won by Mr. Mossi or his allies unless his critics unite and campaign for the next election in three years. Mr. Mahmoud should defy the military and hand over back to Morsi who should recall parliament and include more women in government.

Every cook can govern, wrote C.L.R. James, following Lenin. This is because in a democratic election, whoever is elected is supported to serve the people and if the person is perceived to be failing the people, then there could be a recall election as was the case in the governorships of California (successful) and Wisconsin (unsuccessful, with some elected representatives defeated in the recall election) or the people could wait and elect a new chief executive and new legislative representatives at the next election. Having struggled for decades under military rule before being given the chance of electing a government of their choice for the first time, the people of Egypt should wait three more years to re-elect or throw out the candidates at the next election and put in a clause of term limits if they do not have one already. The authoritarian populism of the military is the good intention with which the road to hell is paved.

The African philosophy of non-violence should be the guide for the protesters and for the government in Egypt. The right to protest must be defended by the government while the people must support the democratic process instead of yearning for a dictatorship. Mob rule and individual rule were the extreme reasons why Aristotle preferred the system of aristocracy as a golden mean compared to the systems of democracy and monarchy but the Egyptians are not asking for mob rule nor for the rule of the individual, they appear to be all pro-democracy (supporters and opponents of Morsi alike) even if the opposition forces paradoxically see the military coup option as a facilitator of increased democratization while the supporters of the Morsi regime rightly insist on the right of the parties and individuals with the democratic mandate to serve their term of office. There is no need for clashing supporters and opponents to continue killing Egyptians on the streets.

No comments: