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Monday, 14 February 2011 11:19

Egypt Needs Strong Democratic Institutions

By Kester Kenn Klomegah and Professor Zenebe Kinfu

MOSCOW, February 14, 2011 (Buziness Africa) – Last year while U.S. President Barack Obama was visiting a number of African countries, he reminded leaders who have ruled African countries to adhere to the rule of law, observe human rights and make institutions more efficient, and importantly improve economic welfare of the majority of citizens.

Egypt Needs Strong Democratic InstitutionsThe "Nile Revolution" that took place in Egypt by the ordinary people was a clear message to the African leaders who still glued themselves to political power as their own property, that the oppressed and proletariat at the grassroots or micro-levels of the society will rise up at the appropriate time.

Without doubts, Obama compared the stepping down of the Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to the fall of the Berlin Wall and America’s human rights achievements.

Obama said that every person has the call of freedom in their soul, and that such were the appeals that reached the rest of the world from Tahrir Square, but further warned that Egypt is in for hard times as it will progress towards free and fair elections.

The main accusations against Mubarak are that his regime fostered poverty, autocracy and large-scale corruption. The main goal of Egypt's revolution was to replace Mubarak's regime with a true democracy.

The unexpected resignation made Mubarak, the second Arab leader forced to quit from a civil uprising. He succumbed to 18 days of mass protests and demonstrations by hundreds of thousands of Egyptians. Last month, Tunisia's president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali resigned and fled the country amid massive protests against his regime.

Upon hearing the news announced by Vice President Sulieman on national television, according to news sources, the people reacted with joy with tens of thousands of people who had gathered outside of the presidential palace chanting, “The people have ousted the president!”

The joyous reaction filled the crowd of more than a million people who had gathered in Tahrir Square in central Cairo, where the news spread like wildfire and was met with joy, cheering, car horns, fireworks and the waving of Egyptian flags. Gunshots could be heard across the city as the people celebrated the news.  

Mubarak had, until the last, sought to cling to power, handing some of his authority to Suleiman while keeping his title. He provoked fury among the protesters when he appeared on television and once again refused to step down saying he would remain in power until the September elections.

The protesters, elated with their success, were in no rush to return home. The Tunisians, Lebanese, Algerians and Palestinians also celebrated the overthrow of Mubarak. The leaders of a number of Asian and European nations have sent their messages of greeting to the people of Egypt.

Mubarak, 82, who ruled the country for almost 30 years, stepped down after 18 days of heated protests. He was first elected as president in a referendum on Oct. 13, 1981 after the assassination of radical Islamists President Anwar Sadat. Since then, three referendums in 1987, 1993 and 1999 extended its mandate for six years. In 2005, the first election was held in the country's history where he outperformed all of his competitors.

Now, the destiny of the country shifted to new hands. The global leaders have called for peace and restoration of democracy in the country.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev hopes for the soonest restoration of democratic processes in Egypt through legitimate election procedures.


"Russia hopes that the democratic process in Egypt will be restored in full and all the legitimate election procedures will be used for this," he said in the statement released by the Kremlin press service. "We also believe it is very important that inter-religious peace and accord must remain in Egypt," Medvedev emphasised.


"The strong democratic Egypt is an important factor to continue the peace process in the Middle East," the Russian leader noted. "Russia will continue to play an active role in the international efforts to render assistance for this process. Our country and Egypt are linked with the long history of relations of strategic partnership," said the Russian president.


"We actively develop political, economic and humanitarian contacts, and we hope for their further development," he added.


On February 3, the Russian president had a telephone talk with Mubarak. In the talk, Medvedev expressed "the wish and the hope that the current difficult period in the life of friendly Egypt would be soon overcome by peaceful and legal settlement of existing problems."


On February 9, special presidential envoy for the Middle East Alexander Saltanov in Cairo conveyed Medvedev's verbal message to the Egyptian leader shortly before his final overthrow from power.

Russian Foreign Ministry official spokesman Alexander Lukashevich also added his voice. "One can only hope that no blood will be spilled as the country emerges from this crisis, that the new government will have fully in mind the interests of all Egyptians and work to promote democracy in this crucially important Arab country. And we are also convinced that the people of Egypt are able to determine their future without any outside interference…" he said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, commenting on the events in Cairo, said "we take the latest news from Egypt as a result of the process that is conducted within the country among major political forces."

"We expect that all the recent events will help restore stability and ensure the normal functioning of all the structures of power and that not only the structure of the present government, but opposition forces are willing to stabilize the situation," Lavrov added.

Earlier, he also said Russia viewed "the latest news from Egypt as a result of the process within the country among the major political forces". This, he said, is "evidence that the current authorities approach the problems responsibly and seek to achieve national accord".


"We expect that all the recent events will help restore stability and ensure the normal functioning of all the power structures, and that not only the structures of the present government, but also opposition forces, are willing to stabilise the situation," Lavrov added.


China and Japan have called on Egypt's new military leaders to accelerate the process of political change. "China hopes that the latest development of the situation helps Egypt with the restoration of national stability and public order as soon as possible," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said.


Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said he hoped that "a new government will be born democratically." "We would like to maintain long-time friendly relations between Japan and Egypt. I want Egypt to continue playing a constructive role in the Middle East," he added.

It should be borne in mind that Mubarak's resignation followed the unprecedented pressure from the U.S., in spite of the active opposition of some Arab countires. The government of Mubarak said that the United States has tried to "impose its will" on its loyal Middle East ally. A statement was issued after Washington warned official Cairo that the Egyptian authorities do not fulfill even the minimum requirements of reform emanating from the people of Egypt.

In an interview with U.S. channel PBS Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit strongly condemned the statements of President Obama's administration about the situation in Egypt.

It is obvious that the change of leaders in Egypt, no matter who is to replace Mubarak, may cause similar events in other Arab countries with similar socio-economic problems, and also change the balance of forces in the region, which is considered the most fragile because of the chronic Arab- Israeli conflict. (END/2011)



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