May 23, 2012
Heated arguments and deep discussions have become a part of the Egyptian landscape in the past few weeks as Cairo politicians have put it all on the line. Now it is up to the citizens to choose their ultimate destiny in the dangerous realm of Middle Eastern policies and ideologies in the first Arab world’s election for the presidency.
Egypt understands authoritarian rule from being under the decades of rule during the Mubarak era. Now they are seeking a government that lays somewhere between secularism and strong Islamist traditional rule. There are around four or five candidates that are seen as plausible contenders for the presidential race.
Long lines of people waited for the polls to open in the warm sunshine. Fifty million Egyptians are eligible to vote. There was a full page headline in the morning newspaper that declared, “RISE UP EGYPTIANS, Egypt of the revolution chooses today the first elected president for the Second Republic.”
The Muslim Brotherhood had been given the task of coming up with a new constitution, but they ran into altercations with opposing forces and decisions could not be made. So, there is no permanent constitution to clearly describe the presidential duties and powers. No doubt there will be major disagreements to come but the “vote” itself is seen to be a crucial guide for Egypt’s long, hard course ahead. The world takes a wait and see stance to see which direction this election will take.
The military has played a major role in steering Egypt down this path of transition. Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi promised the military will continue to protect Egypt from domestic disturbances as well as defend the nation from foreign threats, and will turn power over to the new president on July 1.
If the Islamists make further political gains, that could actually jeopardize the Egyptian peace treaty with Israel, and upset the backing of the U.S. which has been a cornerstone of regional policy.
One of the biggest issues the new president is going to face is the lawlessness in the streets. Random violent crime was almost not heard of when Mubarak ran a police state. Most of the presidential candidates have promised to make law and order a priority and teaching the police officers how to deal with human rights.
The two most popular Islamic Muslim presidential leaders running for president promise to reform the police and a couple of former Mubarak officials emphasize coming down with a “strong hand” police policy.