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Shaking Unshakable Pharaoh –II

Issue 07, February 13, 2011

Siddhi B. Ranjitkar

After eighteen days of street protests, the heroic people of Egypt have brought down the man behind the emergency law from power: Hosni Mubarak. He has tried several tricks to stop the people from protesting against him but the people stood firmly against him demanding his immediate departure from the presidential palace. His departure has finally come on February 11, 2011. He has turned over the reign to the High Council of Armed Forces defying the Constitution of Egypt. Whether the High Council of Army will follow the departing president or follow the Constitution remains to be seen. Egyptian people want to bring Hosni Mubarak to justice.

Eighteen days have passed since the Egyptian people have up-risen demanding President Hosni Mubarak to go. First, he fired his government believing the people will be satisfied with a new government taking up the administration, then he appointed Suleiman a vice president and promised political reforms but he did not quit. Then, he transferred some of his power to his vice-president Suleiman hoping people will leave him in peace. All these step-by-step actions of Mubarak have angered the protestors more than before. On Thursday, February 10, 2011, people have anticipated that he will announce his resignation but instead stopped short of stepping down, transferring most powers to Mr. Suleiman. They came out in anger following the address to the nation on the state-run TV by Mr. Mubarak on Thursday.

People uprising against Hosni Mubarak have lost the lives of 300 hundred people and thousands of people have been injured but people have been willing to pay any price for removing the president from power. They did not care about the risk of defying the curfew to remain at the Tahrir Square literally meaning Liberation Square protesting against the president. They have stayed on the Tahrir  Square days and nights braving the winter cold.

Finally, Hosni Mubarak has given in to the protestors and left Cairo for the resort town Sharm-El-Sheikh. Two helicopters have taken him and his family to this resort town. From there, he has sent his resignation that his Vice-president read out on the state-run TV on the early morning of February 11, 2011.

Vice-President Omar Suleiman read out the resignation of the president, “In these grave circumstances that the country is passing through, President Hosni Mubarak has decided to leave his position as president of the republic. He has mandated the Supreme Council of Armed Forces to run the state. God is our protector and succor.”

Immediately after this announcement, protestors on the Tahrir  Square have jubilantly celebrated the departure of Hosni Mubarak: the most hated president of Egypt. One firecracker after another has went off in the sky. People begin chanting and singing. In celebration, people have held parties on the streets. Even soldiers have started the celebration of the victory day according to some news reports.

Protestors have anticipated to happen this even yesterday but Mubarak has betrayed them not leaving the palace but remaining in power on one pretext or another. Protestors became even more furious with Mubarak at not resigning from the presidency. So, protestors determined to shake him out from the power have started moving on to the presidential palace. Angry protestors have marched toward the presidential palace. Number of protestors on the streets increased significantly.

Finally on February 11, 2011, the mighty president has crumbled under the heavy pressure of the protestors on the streets and has left Cairo for Sharm el-Sheikh where he has a residence. Egyptians have not forgiven him for his crime of being dictator and denying freedom of speech, freedom of forming political parties, freedom from hunger and poverty and so on. Now, Egyptian people have been demanding to bring Hosni Mubarak to justice.

The Swiss Government has already announced the freezing of the assets of Hosni Mubarak in Switzerland. International community has hailed the departure of Hosni Mubarak and congratulated the Egyptian people on their victory over the dictator, and they have wished the Egyptian people for civilian and democratic rule. The world leaders have appreciated the Egyptian people’s courageous and non-violent fight for transforming their country into non-dictatorial and hope for institutionalizing individual and political freedoms. Even Iran and Hezbollah have congratulated the Egyptian people on their great victory over the dictator.

Chief of the Foreign Policy of European Union Baroness Ashton said the EU "respected" the decision of President Mubarak resigning. "It is important now that the dialogue is accelerated leading to a broad-based government which will respect the aspirations of, and deliver stability for, the Egyptian people," she said. UK Prime Minister David Cameron said this was a "really precious moment of opportunity to have a government that can bring the people together", and called for a "move to civilian and democratic rule". German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed the "historic change" in Egypt according to the BBC News.

Egyptian opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei responding to the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak said, "This is the greatest day of my life. The country has been liberated."

In a statement, Jewish groups have congratulated Egyptians on ousting Hosni Mubarak and expressed hope for continued peace with Israel.

The Israelis have been worried about the regime change concerning the peace treaty they have reached with Egypt that has lasted so far. They have been concerned with the uncertainty about the new role of the military and how they will govern; in addition, they have been concerned with the role the Muslim Brotherhood will play in the transition and beyond, and with the impact of all these things on the policies of Egypt, and its relations with the West and the State of Israel.

"The demonstrations by the people of Egypt against the regime’s authoritarianism and repression, and their demands for greater freedom, political accountability and transparency, have been inspiring to all who cherish democracy and liberty," the Anti-Defamation League said in a statement Friday after Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman announced that Mubarak had relinquished his powers to the army. "The people of Egypt must now channel their passion for change into the more difficult task of building the foundations for a true open, inclusive and stable democracy," writes.

The day of departure of Hosni Mubarak has been the historic day for the people of Egypt. However, Hosni Mubarak even after resigning from the presidency has not followed the Constitution of Egypt. Following the constitution, the Speaker of the parliament is supposed to be the acting president and then form a new government until the government holds fresh elections to the parliament. However, Mubarak has turned over the power to the Supreme Council of Armed Forces. Defense Minister is the head of the Supreme Council of Armed Forces. How the army will behave remains to be seen. During the 18-day protest, the army has been empathetic to the protestors.

During the almost 30-year presidency of Mubarak, he has used stability as the main goal for enforcing the emergency law that has prevented gatherings of more than five people to keep the people suppressed so that they would not rise to ask for any kinds of political gatherings, freedom of speech and fundamental human rights. But in January 2011, people inspired by the revolution in Tunisia have managed to erupt in the unprecedented protest. Protesters frustrated by poverty, corruption, unemployment and autocratic rule have used everything for more than two weeks to drive Mubarak out of power.

Denmark's prime minister has been the first European Union leader to publicly urge President Hosni Mubarak to step down. "Mubarak is history, Mubarak must step down," Lars Loekke Rasmussen said Friday in Copenhagen, the Associated Press reports.

As opposed to the hope given to the protestors by the army on the morning of Thursday, February 10, 2011 that all the demands of the protestors will be met, President Hosni Mubarak has not step down but in his night address to the nation he has transferred some power to his Vice-president Suleiman. After some time, Vice-president Suleiman has addressed the nation and urged the protestors to go home and don’t listen to the foreign news networks that have been causing chaos in Egypt, and urged the parents to call back their loved ones from the Tahrir  Square back and let them go to work.

Certainly, the Tunisian uprising has inspired a succession of rallies and demonstrations, in Egypt, Jordan, Yemen and Algeria but none of the protest rallies has been so serious as of Egypt. Since January 25, 2011, Egyptians have been on the streets demanding Hosni Mubarak to go. After the army has declared that the entire demands of the protestors will be met, they have anticipated that Mubarak will step down but he has disappointed to the protestors simply turning over certain power to his Vice-president Suleiman.

Surely, the Egyptian ruling class has been listening to the foreign power to stay on in power and gradual transition of the power. If the president steps down now means the election to a new president needs to be held within 60 days. So, the time will not be enough for the smooth transition of power.

The opposition says that the Egyptians need to have the rights to form political parties. So far, the single party of President Mubarak has been monopolizing on ruling the country. They need to have the opposition to any ruling party in the country but Mubarak has not granting this rights to the people and has been running the administration with enforcement of a state of emergency in the country. So, after Mubarak has left, not a single political party is there to take the reign. Actually, the opposition wants to have sometime for organizing political parties in preparation for the general elections. The pro-democracy forces have been so disorganized and marginalized by the decades of repression of the Mubarak regime that they would need many months to lay the groundwork for open and credible elections.

According to the Oval news, US President Barack Obama pledged U.S. support for the people of Egypt, particularly the young people who have led the protests, as the world watches "history unfold" in Cairo today. He went on: "What is absolutely clear is we are witnessing history unfold. It's a moment of transformation taking place because the people of Egypt are calling for change." Noting "extraordinary numbers" of Egyptians from all walks of life have joined the protests, Obama told an audience at Northern Michigan University, "it's young people who've been at the forefront, a new generation, your generation, who want their voices to be heard." His message to them: that the U.S. will "support an orderly and genuine transition to democracy in Egypt."

According to the, President Obama offered Egypt “whatever assistance is necessary and asked for to pursue a credible transition to a democracy,” and said the events of the past few days have made clear that nothing but genuine democracy would satisfy its people. “Egypt will never be the same” after the street revolution that deposed President Hosni Mubarak, Mr. Obama said. Praising Egypt’s military for its behavior during the crisis, he urged the military council taking over the country to “ensure a transition that is credible in the eyes of the Egyptian people.”

“That means protecting the rights of Egypt’s citizens, lifting the emergency law, revising the constitution and other laws to make this change irreversible, and laying out a clear path to elections that are fair and free,” he said. “Above all, this transition must bring all of Egypt’s voices to the table, for the spirit of peaceful protest and perseverance that the Egyptian people have shown can serve as a powerful wind at the back of this change.”

The US president has promised to continue the annual support of $1.3 billion for the military, and $250 million for the economic development depending on the speed and enthusiasm with which reform takes place. He has demanded to immediately lift the emergency laws that Mr. Mubarak has used to silence his opponents.

In view of what has happened in Tunisia and Egypt, President Obama on late Wednesday, February 09, 2011 has called Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah on the phone and has emphasized the importance of taking immediate steps toward an orderly transition that is meaningful, lasting, legitimate, and responsive to the aspirations of the Egyptian people. The president also reaffirmed the long-term commitment of the United States to peace and security in the region according to the news reports.

Google Inc. executive Wael Ghonim taken under custody on Friday, January 31, 2010, after release from detention on Feb 08, has addressed the protestors electrifying them once again. His accounts of how he has been detained have been the additional inspirations for tearing down the current regime. He has created the Facebook group that has been instrumental to the protest against Mubarak.

The National Democratic Party's security forces have kidnapped him in the early hours of Friday morning, and blindfolded him for the period of detention. He has no idea about what has been going on in the streets of Cairo. In an interview, he said, "the officials have dismissed the facebook group as kids on Facebook… just making some noise." "They didn't believe that these 'kids' came out, tens of thousands of them, to demonstrate on Jan. 25," he said. "This is the revolution of the youth of the Internet which then became the revolution of the youth of Egypt. And now it's become the revolution of all of Egypt."

In the United States, Americans feel protected by their Constitution. In Egypt, the opposite can be true. The Arab nation's constitution, recently amended in 2005 and 2007, was designed to preserve power for the ruling National Democratic Party and make it virtually impossible for anyone outside the ruling establishment to seek the highest office in the land, according to the The parliament needs to amend the constitution for the peaceful transformation of the dictatorial regime to a democratic one.

Senior member of the banned Muslim Brotherhood party Hamdi Hassan serving a jail term walked out of the jail on January 28, 2010 two days after the protesters commandeered the facility and freed all the inmates. "This is a defining and historic moment because Egyptians from all walks of life are finally free," Hassan said.

The Muslim Brotherhood is a fundamentalist Islamic party, has claimed a real stake in Egyptian politics. It has been underground during the three decades of the President Hosni Mubarak’s rule. Newspaper reports say that it has the support of less than 20 percent of the Egyptian people but it has been the largest and best-organized group in Egypt, could become the largest bloc in the parliament when new elections are held. It has already set the groundwork for a political resurgence.

The Brotherhood was set up in 1928 to promote Islamic values, and has become influential after demanding the end of the British colonial rule in Egypt. However, after Egypt became independent in 1948, one ruler after another has cracked down on the group and has banned it.

The Mubarak's government has allowed its members to run for office as independents. In the elections held in 2005, the Muslim Brotherhood has won 88 seats in the parliament, about 20 percent of the total seats. However, in the latest parliamentary believed-widely-rigged elections held in November of 2010, it could not win any seats demoralizing its leaders.

Biography of Hosni Mubarak as published in the BCC Website

Muhammad Hosni Sayyid Mubarak was born on May 04, 1928 in a small village in the Nile Delta in 1928. Despite a poor background, he graduated from Egypt's Military Academy in 1949 before transferring to the Air Force where he was commissioned in 1950. As Commander of the Egyptian Air Force and Deputy Minister of Defense, he was instrumental in planning the surprise attack on Israeli forces occupying Egypt's Sinai peninsula at the start of the 1973 Yom Kippur war. His reward came two years later when President Sadat, under pressure to appoint a deputy, made Mr. Mubarak vice-president. He was elevated to the presidency in the wake of Anwar Sadat's assassination in 1981. Few expected that the little-known vice-president would hold on to the country's top job for so long.

US relationship
Despite having little popular appeal or international profile at the time, Mr. Mubarak used his sponsorship of the issue behind Sadat's killing - peace with Israel - to build up his reputation as an international statesman. He was intimately involved in negotiating the Camp David peace agreement with Israel, signed in 1979 by Sadat and the Israeli prime minister, Menachem Begin. It cemented his relations with the US, which supplied the country with billions of dollars of military aid.

To the West, Egypt was a key ally - a voice of moderation on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However, his position earned him the ire of Islamist extremists. The government argued that its draconian regime was necessary to combat Islamist terrorism.

Mr. Mubarak survived at least six assassination attempts. The narrowest escape was in 1995 when his limousine came under attack in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, where he was attending an African summit.

Criticism from human rights groups was routine.
Mr. Mubarak presided over a period of domestic stability and economic development that meant most of his fellow countrymen accepted his monopolization of power in Egypt. But in recent years, he felt for the first time the pressure to encourage democracy, both from within Egypt and from the United States.

After weeks of mounting protests, and few political concessions, that pressure became unbearable. The support of the military eventually dissipated, and the commander-in-chief left office. By February 10, reports that he was about to resign had swept through Egypt and around the world. In one further televised address Mr. Mubarak frustrated the protesters again, insisting he would stay on until elections due in September. Less than 24 hours later, though, Mr. Mubarak had left Cairo with his family, and newly-installed Vice-President Omar Suleiman appeared on state TV to announce that the president was standing down.

Those filling the streets of Cairo, Alexandria and other towns and cities across Egypt erupted in joy as Hosni Mubarak slipped into history.

February 12, 2011

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