Another perspective on the elections

I have been collecting material written on the Egyptian elections and will publish a list tomorrow. But to get things started, here is a damning indictment of the elections by my old friend Khairi Abaza (yes, I have friends even in that institution). I don't agree with him on every point (more on that tomorrow) but do agree with his conclusion:

In the current political environment, elections are not the key to political reform. Only serious reform can lead to free and fair elections that would attract the silent majority of Egyptians. Opening up the political environment by allowing parties and civil society organizations to be created more easily, by creating true impartiality in the state media, by restricting the unlimited use of state resources by the ruling party, by abolishing the emergency laws, and above all by reforming the constitution will contribute to greater political participation.

A sign of seriousness in a political reform program would be cooperation between the regime and the prodemocracy opposition to achieve specific goals of constitutional and legal reform within a set timeframe. Unilateral and poorly defined reform programs are perceived as maneuvers to keep real reform at bay, leading to increasing radicalization and serious concerns for Egypt’s future stability.
More tomorrow, if I have time before I have to catch a plane.
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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.