On January 25, 2011 the Egyptian people demonstrating in “Tahrir Square” managed peacefully, after 18 days, to bring to an end the Mubarak regime that had remained in power for 30 years.
It is almost six months since that day as breathtaking changes have been taking place since then. These changes are being closely watched by the whole world, including India, where, most recently, a number of articles have been published in prestigious newspapers on the increasing influence of Salafis in Egyptian society.
It is worth mentioning that when Egyptians took to the streets to bring an end to the Mubarak regime, they wanted to establish their “Second Republic” with an inclusive democracy, where no political parties or movements be left out or work from behind the scenes. They also aspired to ensure social equality and to fight corruption.
To achieve those aspirations, the Supreme Military Council, that runs the country together with a transitional civil government, worked out a plan to prepare Egyptians for free and fair elections on November 18, three months hence, which will be the first phase of handing over part of the authority, currently being held by the Military Council, to a civilian elected government.
A road map has been agreed on for electing a constitutional society to draft a new constitution for the country. It is to be adopted by a referendum, immediately after the Parliamentary elections, which is going to be the basis for the presidential elections, aiming at the election of a new president to assume his responsibilities, thus allowing the military to go back to its barracks.
Among recent developments, the Egyptian courts have ruled on a number of cases, most important of which is dissolving the National Democratic Party and the State Security Police. Trials are being conducted of the ex-President, his family members and a number of former ministers and officials of the regime on charges of corrupting political life. Draft laws on the full independence of the judiciary and the media are in the making. A new election law, while already enacted, is still under national debate.
Reinvigorating the economy, bringing back tourism levels to previous figures of 16 million in 2010, creating job opportunities and promoting foreign direct investment are top priorities in the coming phase.
The Supreme Military Council and the Egyptian government have reiterated Egypt's position in honouring its regional and international agreements and treaties. While condemning violations of human rights and attacks on civilians, Egypt reiterated its refusal of foreign intervention and respect of the sovereignty of states. Egypt equally expects from the international community to respect its national laws governing the finance of registered NGOs and non-interference in its affairs when it relates to a consensus decision by Egyptians for the establishment of an inclusive democratic system. Unscrupulous comments on the reasons behind selecting a cabinet minister or a governor should be avoided. The coming elections and the ballot box will judge the levels of popularity of political parties and movements in the country. Though political life was weak in Egypt over the last few decades, Egyptians have been following global movements, and contributing in their own way to human development. Just to mention that over the last 40 years, four Egyptians have won the Nobel Prize, one for Physics, another for Literature and two for Peace.
We, Egyptians, are cognisant that the road ahead is not easy and full of challenges, but we also know that our great history and a promising future will keep going on the path we have chosen for ourselves — a Gandhian peaceful way — to achieve our goals and usher in a new era of prosperity, hopefully setting an example for others to follow.
Khaled El Bakly, Ambassador of Egypt