Dom Post on Egypt

The Dom Post editorial:

For the first time in about 7000 years has a democratically elected leader. After days of delay, Mohammed Morsi, a 60-year-old United States-trained engineer, was yesterday declared the winner of the country’s first genuine presidential election.

His victory is the fruit of the popular uprising that ousted military strongman Hosni Mubarak in January last year. However, it remains to be seen whether the election changes anything.

Mr Morsi, a technocrat who stood only because the Muslim Brotherhood’s preferred candidate Khairat al-Shater was barred from the contest, has begun by making all the right noises. He has resigned from the Brotherhood and its political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party, pledged to preserve Egypt’s international accords – a reference to its peace treaty with Israel – and promised to “represent” all Egyptians and appoint non-Muslims to key positions in his new government.

I’m not a fan of the policies of the Muslim Brotherhood, but that is no reason that the Mubarak dictatorship should continue. I suspect part of the reason the brotherhood gets so much support is because they were almost the only force against Mubarak.

It is possible that things may go badly for Egypt, especially if their new Government did try to attack Israel or break the peace treaty. But actually being in Government tends to moderate the rhetoric of opposition.  As you get focused on growing the economy, providing better healthcare etc, reducing crime, you realise these are what really matter to voters. There is of course a risk that if things go badly, they will try and provoke a fight with Israel, in order to bolster domestic support. The Iranian President does this often.

However imperfectly Mr Morsi fits the bill, he is the embodiment of the hopes of the young Egyptians who risked life and limb to bring about the end of the Mubarak regime and the tens of thousands of others who have protested on the streets of Bahrain, Algeria, Yemen, Iran and now Syria.

How he manages the tensions with Egypt’s military, relations with Israel and the West and how he treats women and minorities will be watched not only in Egypt but around the globe.

Egypt has its first democratically elected President. That is what all countries deserve – the ability to elect their own leadership.

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