The President Has Spoken

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Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak delivers his speech on the 1st of February.

Hosni Mubarak just delivered his speech.

He conceded that the protests were begun by “honest youths and men” and that he was  addressing the people directly, Muslims, Christians, farmers. He claimed he had never  “sought power or influence”. He will direct the police forces to “protect and serve the citizens in absolute dignity”. This is a huge change in position considering the brutal methods they had employed in the earlier days of the protests, and throughout his whole tenure as President.

He finished off by saying that he would die on Egyptian soil, and would only be judged by history. As soon as he was done, the chants continued in Midan el Tahrir.

And the biggest news of all? He will not run for the Presidency in September.

Big words. The tone was certainly not apologetic; if anything, it was defiant, but also remorseful. He claimed “I have exhausted my life serving Egypt” and that in his last few months he would work towards a transition of power.

After the events of the past 8 days, it’s difficult to see things going back to the way they were, even with the horizon of change visible. But nonetheless this speech is unprecedented. We have never seen or heard anything like it and putting all emotion to the side, we need to address the issue with reason.

Amr Moussa just said this on CNN: “I believe that this is something new that has been offered and it should be considered carefully,” and when asked about if he would run for president he replied: “Yes I will think about it seriously in the next few weeks.”

The big question still looms large: Should we accept these concessions and carry on for the last 8 months, or should we demand an immediate withdrawal.

Surely the more orderly of the two is the former. If we have eight months to prepare for elections, we can review the candidates, the parties, and their agendas. We can assume that free and fair elections will take place and so we will have to time to prepare for those to happen.If we pursue the Revolution a void could be created that could lead to chaos and a rise to power of an undesirable part (ie the MB). Another advantage is that we have no idea how likely it is for Mubarak to step down, and if this Revolution continues it could get more violent and result in more damage to property, deaths of civilians, and harm to the economy, and that would benefit no one.

But can we go back? What about our freedoms for those eight months? We have not been promised anything about political prisoners being freed, about unblocking the internet, freedom of speech and expression in the run up to the elections in September, job creation in the meantime, and fighting the poverty that plagues over half the country’s population.

And in those eight months, Mubarak could ensure that his regime will continue, even without him. Omar Suleiman could be put in a greater position of power, so that when Mubarak steps down, he will become the prime candidate to take over. And, there is the assumption that there will be fair and free elections organised. There is no guarantee however. We cannot be sure that Mubarak’s apparatus will not remain after he is gone, and that he won’t work to ensure that it remains.

Are we willing to take that risk? We are so close to viable change, can we remain dormant for another eight months?


Written by BraveNewEgypt

February 1, 2011 at 10:10 pm

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