Accessibility links

Egyptian Scholar Calls for Inclusive Government

  • Peter Clottey

In this image taken from Egypt State TV, newly-elect President Mohammed Morsi delivers a speech in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, June 24, 2012. In his first televised speech on state TV, Morsi pledged Sunday to preserve Egypt's international accords, a reference
Egyptian scholar Said Sadek said many Egyptians will be displeased if President-elect Mohammed Morsi’s cabinet is filled with only members of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Sadek, a professor of political sociology at the American University in Cairo, said the new president would have to allay the concerns of some Egyptians who he said are suspicious of the Muslim Brotherhood.

“The last thing Egyptians want to see in a new cabinet is that it is all dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, and he promised that he will have [a] vice president and prime minister and many cabinet ministers who are not members of his political party, Freedom and Justice Party, or the Muslim Brotherhood,” said Sadek.

In his first speech as president-elect Sunday, Morsi offered a vision of inclusion -- a sharp contrast to the polarizing campaign from which he emerged victorious against pro-establishment candidate Ahmed Shafiq.

Morsi called on all Egyptians, Muslims and Christians, to unite. He said this is the only way to get out of a difficult period, since a popular uprising ousted longtime President Hosni Mubarak last year and left the military in charge of a chaotic transition.

“This is a very good sign that he is very inclusive and not excluding others because there were so many accusations that the Muslim Brotherhood is becoming greedy, it wants to devour everything,” said Sadek.

“It is very important that he tries to reach everybody. In his speech last night, he did his best to reach out to the people who did not vote for him... Half of the population voted for him and [almost] half of the population voted for his rival, and so he has to make a cabinet that will appeal to all shades of politics in Egypt.”

Morsi is the first civilian to be elected to the Egyptian presidency after the electoral body declared him winner of the presidential run-off vote. He defeated Shafiq, a former prime minister, after garnering almost 52 percent, or a lead of more than 800,000 of the total votes cast.

Sadek said the new president has his work cut out for him in his effort to unite the country. He said Morsi needs to ease concerns of many Egyptians about the stance of the Muslim Brotherhood on social issues.

“People will give him the benefit of the doubt for a hundred days. Since the priority now is the constituent assembly…he needs to push and make sure that everybody is represented in the Constituent Assembly, and that the constitution that will come will be suitable for modern Egypt [in] the 21st century, not a medieval constitution or violate the previous constitution that Egypt had,” said Sadek.

“He has to reach [out] and calm women, minorities, people who believe that once Muslim Brotherhood and Islamists take over they will never allow democracy to unseat them. So, he has to make sure that the new constitution is very democratic, it allows the people the freedom, and [the ability to] peacefully change their government and president without the need to resort to political revolution and taking to the streets.”

The military council has promised to hand power to an elected president by the end of this month, but it also has made a series of declarations in recent days stripping the presidency of most of its powers. The council has taken for itself key executive powers and claimed control of legislative affairs after dissolving the Muslim Brotherhood-led lower house of parliament earlier this month.

Some Egyptians have demanded the military hand over power to the newly elected leader. But, Sadek said it is unlikely the military will hand over power it has arrogated to itself to the new leader.

“I don’t think the military, after ruling the country for six or seven decades, will easily give up the powers and give it to Dr. Morsi. I think they will want to keep a hand here or there. They cannot give off power so quickly. It might take 10 years until you have a stable political system…” he said.