The Wheels of Change: Despite Official Calls for "A National Dialogue" Many Egyptians Remain Unconvinced That Serious Reforms Will Have Made Their Way on to the Statute Books before the Next Presidential Elections in 2005

By Badcock, James | The Middle East, December 2003 | Go to article overview

The Wheels of Change: Despite Official Calls for "A National Dialogue" Many Egyptians Remain Unconvinced That Serious Reforms Will Have Made Their Way on to the Statute Books before the Next Presidential Elections in 2005


Badcock, James, The Middle East


Closing the ruling National Democratic Party's (NDP) conference on 28 September, President Hosni Mubarak announced that he had decided to "abolish all military orders issued ... under the emergency laws", in place since the assassination of his predecessor, President Anwar Sadat in 1981. Due to loud cheering from his audience, the President was obliged in pause before adding "except those [orders] that are necessary to maintain public order and security".

This moment at the NDP's first-ever party conference epitomised the events of recent months. Under pressure, the government has invoked the spirit of change, but left many confused as to how real its intentions are.

President Mubarak called for a "national dialogue" involving all legal political groups, but it will take more than words and gestures to convince Egypt's beleaguered opposition that significant reform is on the table.

Egypt finds itself caught in the middle of both internal and international pressures, and 2003 has brought those pressures acutely into focus. A general failure to lead the Israeli-Palestinian peace process to any positive outcome coupled with Egypt's discomfort at the US-led war against Iraq brought demonstrators onto the streets, as did the harsh effects of the country's economic liberalisation programme. Twenty-two years into Mubarak's reign, a little renewed lustre is required, especially to ensure a smooth hand-over of power to the next NDP leader.

Memories of 1993, the last time the NDP called for such a dialogue, remain fresh and consequently cynicism abounds. Before those talks, the ruling party insisted that the constitution was non-negotiable, leading to boycotts by some opposition groups and a sterile, unproductive discussion.

Commenting in Egypt's Al Ahram newspaper, the liberal Wafd Party Deputy Chairman, Mahmoud Abaza, warned that "this dialogue will end up failing if the NDP decides that amending the constitution--the opposition's cornerstone of real political reform--is not up for discussion." Abaza's party was among those that boycotted the last national dialogue, alongside the Arab Nasserist Party.

The first signs emanating from official circles did not offer much hope to reformers. In the days following Mubarak's pledge to cancel emergency laws, a committee was set up by Prime Minister Ataf Ebeid to review existing powers and make recommendations for change. The committee was reported to have reviewed 13 orders and recommended that only six could be withdrawn. Those included such apolitical matters as "not delivering some of all of an agricultural crop" and the "unlicensed demolishing of any building". The committee steered well clear of the ban on demonstrations, rules against insulting the president or calling for the overthrow of the regime.

Curiously, the perpetrators of" the 1981 murder of President Anwar Sadat were released from jail in October. In total 1,000 members of Jamaa Islamya, including the man convicted of Sadar's assassination and the party leadership, were released in response to the party's renunciation of violence over the past few years.

The Muslim Brotherhood, however, continue to be a banned organisation despite being the best-represented opposition patty in parliament. In the 2000 elections Brotherhood members circumvented the party's illegality by running as independents, picking up 17 seats. It is through the military courts under the 'state of emergency' regulations that Brotherhood members are usually tried for belonging to the banned group of plotting to overthrow the regime by disseminating propaganda which undermines it.

The government seems to be offering pluralism with one hand while strapping down opponents with the other. As the leader of the Brotherhood, Ma'moun El Hodeibi, has put it: "They ala the ones who approach and negotiate with us in the daylight, and then arrest our members and leadership when night falls. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Wheels of Change: Despite Official Calls for "A National Dialogue" Many Egyptians Remain Unconvinced That Serious Reforms Will Have Made Their Way on to the Statute Books before the Next Presidential Elections in 2005
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.