Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Egyptian Executive Control

UPDATE: Check out the new blog covering the Mid East: Outsider On The Inside

After the Egyptian government had its proposed constitutional amendments passed by national referendum last month (exposed as a complete sham), effectively codifying certain executive powers that President Mubarak has enjoyed for the past 26 years under the imposed martial law, the government faces new hurdles in its pursuit to "democratize" Egypt.

Following the 26 March referendum, the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) is gearing itself up for Shura Council mid-term elections scheduled for June. The council's current session ends on 24 April, after which mid-term elections will be conducted to fill 88 seats -- a third of the total.

To comply with newly amended Article 88 of the constitution, the elections will be held in a single day. The last two elections, in 2001 and 2004, were organised in three stages under full judicial supervision. With opposition parties and the Muslim Brotherhood boycotting the polls, the NDP swept the board.

According to Shura Council speaker and NDP secretary-general Safwat El-Sherif, candidates will be able to register for the elections starting the second week of May.

Opposition parties are widely expected to boycott the poll though Rifaat El-Said, chairman of the leftist Tagammu Party, told Al-Ahram Weekly that "participation in the elections will be left to the individual decision of members".

"The party has little faith in the Shura elections and contesting them is beyond the financial resources of Tagammu."

The Egyptian opposition has taken on a very defeatist tone as of late, which must be very worrying to the country's democracy activists. It seems as if the strategy of choice in opposing the government, whether it be during an election or referendum, is to boycott. So how long before we start to realize that this strategy isn't working?

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