Egypt’s military council has appointed a retired judge, respected for his integrity, to head a constitutional review committee. Tareq al-Bishry (right) was a forceful advocate of an independent judiciary during former President Hosni Mubarak’s rule.
Constitutional amendments could be drafted and put to a referendum within a “general time-frame” of two months, the Higher Military Council told youth activists.
The military has suggested that elections could be called within six months, but democratic and secular groups believe an early poll will hand an unfair advantage to the Muslim Brotherhood and forces representing the old regime. Parties denied registration or suppressed under Mubarak need at least 12 months to prepare for an election, activists say.
“If parliamentary elections happen now, the only party ready to go into elections are the Muslim Brotherhood,” said Abou Elela Mady (left), who broke away from the Brotherhood in the 1990s.
Egypt’s political transition could follow at least three routes, writes Andrew Arato.
The military could take the conservative, reformist option of making a few cosmetic changes to the old order, or the radical, authoritarian option of institutional change while still maintaining the core of the old regime.
Or the military could opt for negotiated regime change, along the lines of the “velvet, self-limiting” revolutions of the early 1990s:
We know the playbook from Central Europe, South Africa and in a deformed version even Iraq: negotiations, interim constitution, free elections, constitutional assembly under some limits, under supervision by a constitutional court, and either a provisional government of national unity or a power-sharing executive council overseeing the arrangements. This scenario would certainly lead to regime change, even as it has a chance to offer some guarantees (personal rather than institutional) to beneficiaries of the old regime.
The choice is not a difficult one for democrats.
“The problem is that the choice is also easy for the Supreme Command: 1 or 2, but not 3,” Arato states. “They must be strongly pushed to take what is for them only next-best, and accept the option that will lead to regime change.”