Purple Rose of Cairo

This is a space for free expression and to speak out against hypocrisy; It’s a space where we can speak of daily problems no matter how trivial; It’s a space for confronting our issues and discussing them honestly.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Change and Resistance to Change - An Ongoing process

A few days ago the Washington post published "Egypt Shuts Door on Dissent As U.S. Officials Back Away" by Anthony Shadid.
As I read through it I remembered the events of the past two years and realized that much as we had aspired to change very little has actually changed.
In February of 2005 the government announced that we would have the first multi candidate presidential elections. It was announced weeks after voters registration was closed but still Egyypt had over 30 million registered voters.
In May the government announced it would hold a referendum on the ammendment of article 76 of the constitution. Political parties called for a boycott. Less than 25% of registered voters showed up but that was not because of the call to boycott. It was because over the past three decades Egyptian voters have chosen not to participate.
In September we had our presidential elections and again less than 30% of the voters cast a ballot.
In November and December we had the elections for parliment and still an estimate of 26% of the voters showed up.
Throughout that year the Egyptian government was back tracking on its promises of democratic reform.
Throughout that year the stance of the American administration on political reform in Egypt was changing. At one point it was high on the American State Department agenda. Later as the situation in Iraq worsened and Hamas position in Palestine strengthened, the Americans chose to turn a blind eye to what was happening in Egypt. They have proven to be an unreliable ally in the reform process.
The few hundred political activists in Egypt continued to push and shove against the government that is resistant to change.
In 2006 the battle was for legistlation governing the freedom of the press and the independence of the judiciary.
The government showed stronger resistence with arrests of all opposing political forces. It also sent a clear message with the imprisonment of Ayman Nour, the presidential candidate.
In the first quarter of 2007 the battle is over constitutional change:
The government and its security apparatus are more resistant than ever.
The opposition and reform activists are weakened but trying.
The Americans need their staunch ally for other regional battles.

There have been calls for participation and calls for boycott. Many violations have been exposed. The process continues eventhough the outcome is predetermined.



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