Sunday, 7 July 2013

When is a coup not a coup?

That is what is rightly being asked about the events in Cairo this week when a democratically elected President was removed by the Egyptian military following strong street ( Tahrir Square) protests about his undemocratic rule.

Tahrir Square protests
Pro-Morsi protests
The US has not dubbed it at as a coup as so doing would have automatically aborted the USD one billion plus aid given directly to the Egyptian military without which the latter would collapse.  It is therefore difficult to imagine that the Egyptian military did not clear their lines with Washington before taking the drastic decision to remove President Morsi and put him and senior members of the Muslim Brotherhood party under house arrest.

Yet a coup remains a coup even if called by another name.   Presidents and governments elected through the ballot box should be removed by the ballot box not by street protests or military interventions.

There are other similar events in recent history when something similar happened.  In 1991 the Algerian military intervened to cancel an election that the Islamists were set to win.   And in 2006 the Palestinian Hamas were isolated internationally following their electoral victory in Gaza.

The underlying message in all this is that democratic credentials are not simply about winning free and fair elections.  It is also about respecting the rights of the minority whilst executing the will of the majority and ensuring that nothing is done to prejudice the right to free and fair elections when the democratic mandate expires.

Morsi was accused by a large swathe of the Egyptian population that he was presiding in the interest of The Muslim Bortherhood not in the interest of the whole Egypt.   This forced the Army's hand to intervene in an undemocratic way to safeguard democracy!!!  An oxymoron par excellence.

The important thing now is that the Army recognises that the role of choosing Egypt's leaders belongs to the people of Egypt not the Generals and that a quick return to a democratically elected civilian administration must be found soon.

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