Protestors in Alexandria, Egypt yesterday
Revolutions and their aftermaths tend to be messy affairs; witness Egypt, the latest example of a country in post-revolutionary turmoil.
In summary, after some 30 years of Hosni Mubarak's repressive rule, the Egyptian people, with the aid of their military refusing to follow Mubarak's orders and fire on those people, overthrew the oppressor in February, 2011.
That military, with the top generals at the helm, ruled the country until a presidential election was held in June 2012 and Mohammad Morsi, a former member of the Muslim Brotherhood was elected.
An earlier parliamentary election was held but that assembly was dissolved by the country's Supreme Court (significantly all holdover appointees of the deposed Mubarak) before Morsi was elected.
Morsi as the newly elected president attempted to have the Parliament reseated but was rebuffed by the Court, clearly a ruling by the Court to assert its power over the president.
The president did assert his new authority and had all the top generals resign their posts thus securing his office as the commander over the military (a totally popular move supported by the people).
Meanwhile a separate "constitutional assembly" had been selected to write the country's new constitution which was just recently completed. A referendum vote by the people on that document is scheduled for December 15, five days from today.
However previously and most significantly, on November 22 Morsi issued a decree temporally granting him supreme power, not to be overruled by the courts. The decree was prompted by the Court threatening to dissolve the "constitutional assembly" and the Constitution it had written before it could be voted on by the people. To Morsi, the vote on the new Constitution was all important, delineating the rule of law which the country would abide, including the limits of power of the presidency which Morsi declared he would follow.
But to no avail, his decree immediately unleashed thousands of disparate opposition forces into the streets throughout Egypt accusing Morsi of being a new "Pharaoh", worse than Mubarak.
This past weekend, hoping to quell the current unrest, Morsi rescinded his decree. But the opposition remains unconvinced of his sincerity and has called for a boycott on the referendum scheduled for Saturday, with strikes and opposition rallies called for tomorrow.
How the current destabilization in Egypt can be resolved without the country descending into civil war is anyone's guess.
In light of the current crisis could Morsi have presented his decree in a more politically palliative way to soothe and appease the opposition? It's possible.
But consider; the country has no constitution, no operating parliament and a Mubarak appointed Supreme Court all too ready to dissolve a legally appointed "constitutional assembly" because it didn't agree with the document being written and before it could be presented to the people for a vote. So Morsi chose to act pre-emptively, asserting his power (albeit temporary) over the Court.
That Morsi's decree was to be temporary has been lost on the opposition. To them Morsi represents a new dictatorship, a new Mubarak and is therefore unacceptable.
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