Analysis: Defining moment for Egypt
Egyptians will finally have a new president on Sunday, the first they have chosen freely.
Last Modified: 24 Jun 2012 11:09
Egyptians hope that the new president will usher in a new era for the country [Reuters]

As Egyptians finally get to know who their new president will be, Sunday's announcement would be a defining moment for the Egyptian revolution and history.

The first president they have chosen for themselves will go down in history as the first to rule Egypt after Hosni Mubarak and his 30-year autocracy.

Will there be a complete reversal in the political landscape with the election of a president from a self-described Islamist party: Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood? Or will Egyptians continue to have a president affiliated with the military establishment – as has been the case for the past 60 years since the monarchy was overthrown – in the form of former air force officer, Ahmed Shafik?

The newly elected president is scheduled to take power from the ruling military council by the end of this month.

'Transition ad infinitum'

This hand over is meant to end the turbulent 15-month transitional period.

In the words of one alayst, this will only be “transition ad infinitum,” given that the parliament was dissolved and that the country still remains without a constitution.

There’s little doubt the men in uniform will continue having a main role, be it directly if Shafik is elected, or through backroom deals if it’s the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate who emerges as a winner.

But it’s important not to overlook the fact that even if this president won’t be Commander-in-Chief, he still has another key power: appointing the Prime Minister and the Cabinet. It’s also important not to undermine the psychological value of this day.

A Mohammed Morsi presidency would mean that the Brotherhood gets a moment they’ve arguably been waiting for, for more than 80 years. It would also mean the beginning of another round of political wrangling in the intense showdown between the powerful group and the military.

Many argue that if the winner is Shafik, Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister, it could effectively mean the end of the current revolution.

From the beginning, this election had further polarised Egyptians who have already been deeply divided since the revolution.

This was best seen when local television stations ran split screens on Saturday night of the two very different crowds in different parts of the capital, one supporting Morsi in Tahrir, the other in favor of Shafik and the military.

But as ugly as that split screen may have looked – the lesson was evident: No one side will be able to rule alone.


Al Jazeera
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