Today is Armed Forces Day in Egypt. It is a national holiday. The SCAF, using its Facebook page, has invited the Egyptian public to celebrate the 38th Anniversary of the October war in various public spaces in Cairo. The anniversary celebrates Egypt's military victories against Israel in the 1973 October War. Strikes me as rather Soviet. Also the focus on opposing Israel tends to distract people from the real problems at home.
Personally, I do not think there is very much to be happy about with regard to the Egyptian Armed Forces. As the eloquent protester in Tahrir has put it, we have traded one dictatorial government for another. Mubarak is gone, but Egypt is currently ruled by a military junta. The transition is going very slowly, and there are fears that there will not be a democratic transition at all. It is good news that we have a firm date for upcoming People's Assembly elections. However, the presidential elections are still far off, and the SCAF does not want to allow the parliament to have the power to review the military budget. Such a restriction would eviscerate parliament's power of the purse, and keep Egypt from being a true democracy.
There may be a massive protest tomorrow to demand a timetable for handing over power from SCAF to an elected civilian authority. The days when the people and the army were one hand seem far away . . .As the Beatles sang, Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away, now they look as if they're here to stay . . . sigh . . .
Regardless, my favorite newspaper Al Masry Al Youm reports that six presidential hopefuls have prepared a potential timetable for the transfer of power to an elected civilian president by April 15, 2012. This timetable intends to shorten the transitional period, which appears to be harming Egypt's economy. Indeed, the Minister of Manpower and Immigration, Ahmed al-Borai stated on Wednesday that Egypt is on the brink of bankruptcy. He cautioned Egyptian workers against "excessive demands."
The presidential candidates wish to submit their candidacy papers two weeks after the Shura council elections conclude. The period for presidential campaigning would run from February 15th to the end of March. The elections would begin on April 1, with runoffs on April 10, 2012. This accelerated timetable is in response to a constitutional declaration issued by the SCAF on September 25th stating that presidential elections will be held at the end of 2012, or the start of 2013.
Meanwhile, Noha El-Hennawy reports that some worry the generals may be eyeing the presidency. Under the military's plan, the generals will remain in charge until the end of 2012 at the earliest. This contradicts their initial pledges, which were that the SCAF would return to the barracks six months after presidential and parliamentary elections. The plan has changed repeatedly. Many fear the military is stretching the transitional period to prepare the ground for a general to run for president.
Ruling Council's proposed timetable ignites fears of a military president
In further political woes, Sarah Carr reports that my favorite Egyptian party, the SDP is riven by divisions. I cannot believe that they signed a document last Saturday in support of the SCAF! What is going on people? I am really feeling shocked and dissappointed. Mohamed Abul Ghar, ESDP's leaders said he left the meeting early and found that a paragraph had been inserted into the statement saying "the signatory parties ...declare their complete support for SCAF and recognize the role SCAF has played in protecting the revolution and transferring power to the people." Abul Ghar disavows this statement.
Egyptian Social Democratic Party Divided over military council statement
Political Parties Divided after some sign statement in support of military council
Well folks, things are not going that well. Prayers for the Egyptian people.