Publication International / Transnational - North Africa Egypt after Morsi

Joint Governing or Division of Society? By Peter Schäfer and Mai Choucri.

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Peter Schäfer, Mai Choucri,

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July 2013

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Many “knew it”, of course. The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, or “the Islamists” in general, didn’t have a political plan and their downfall was only a matter of time. The Tamarod (“Rebel”) campaign called for protests against President Muhammad Morsi on 30 June. Millions answered and demonstrated for days. On 1 July the military set a 48-hour ultimatum for resolving the crisis. This didn’t happen. On 3 July the army took over, again, and deposed Morsi who was elected into power only one year earlier.

Tamarod has been a success that surely surprised everyone. The grassroots campaign was founded in the end of April by people related to the Kefaya (“Enough”) movement that already challenged the rule of former President Mubarak. It grew quickly, in a decentralised manner, with volunteers unified by their opposition to President Morsi collecting signatures throughout the country. As the campaign built up people in Egypt were asking: “What will happen on 30 June?” The question was a mix of fear, anticipation, and hope for change after political deadlock that was imposed by the Muslim Brotherhood. The country was gripped by food and fuel shortages as well as frequent electricity and water cuts. Political frustration by the Brotherhood’s politics of favouritism and sectarianism has built up to staggering heights. By late June, Tamarod claimed to have collected 22 million signatures (almost a quarter of Egypt's population) for a petition demanding Morsi to resign and allow for early presidential elections.

Following the massive mobilization of the past months that resulted in the biggest demonstration Egypt has witnessed in rural and urban parts of the country (it is estimated that up to 17 million citizens took to the streets that day). Tamarod demanded the resignation of Morsi or threatened that the people will start a civil disobedience campaign allover Egypt. After seeing this massive turnout and the demands made, the military gave a 48 hours ultimatum to political actors – but mainly to President Morsi – for settling their differences, otherwise it would implement its own “roadmap”. The presidency did not meet the ultimatum, the people kept pushing in the streets and the army deposed Morsi. The step was greeted with massive applause by the “protesters” and rejected by a huge number of “Morsi supporters”, as the simplifying labeling goes.

Now, as street fights and shootings between the different camps are dominating the scene, and a new transitional leadership has to be chosen, the joy has made room for fears of a civil war, although most commentators are excluding an “Algerian scenario”. There is not yet well formulated programmatic talk about a political way forward and ways to end the political, societal, and economic crises. The challenges are enormous: unemployment is at 12.7 percent (official figure), a sharp rise from 2010. Since 2011, 4,500 factories had to close and the Egyptian Pound has devalued by 22 percent. Foreign reserves have dropped from 36 billion USD to 16 billion.

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