THE JANUARY DECISION to redraw 34 articles of law are intended to "rid Egypt of its socialist principles" and "create a more favourable atmosphere for foreign investment", according to President Hosni Mubarak. Egypt is in the midst of major constitutional reform, but not everyone welcomes the moves for the country, which is still shrugging off the 40-year-old legacy of Gamal Abdel Nasser.
The ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) credits itself with initiating Egypt's transition to an open market in the mid-1990s, and the constitutional revisions are meant to reflect an existing economic reality. But critics believe that the proposed amendments will favour business tycoons--including members of the ruling party elite--at the expense of social justice.
When Egypt's economic reform programme was first launched, enthusiasm ran high. The London Financial Times dubbed Egypt 'the tiger on the Nile' in reference to Asian countries that had successfully taken the global market plunge. The private sector was empowered, bureaucracy trimmed, and foreign investments increased. More multi-national corporations set up shop at a decent profit, while big domestic businesses expanded and diversified. Egypt's large workforce, its trade agreement access to European, Arab and African markets, along with its apparent willingness to liberalise were seen as signs that prosperity was around the corner.
Reversing a half century of socialist policies, however, especially the …