ICG: A Way Out of Egypt’s Transitional Quicksand
A recent article by the International Crisis Group (ICG) addresses Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi‘s declaration of full power. The decree ”removes the unpopular Prosecutor General, a Mubarak-era holdover; paves the way for retrial of recently acquitted officials implicated in violence against demonstrators; protects both the Shura Council and Constituent Assembly from possible court-ordered dissolution; prolongs the Constituent Assembly’s term by two months; and, crucially, immunizes all presidential decisions from judicial review until adoption of a new constitution.”
Morsi’s decree came in reaction to the imminent collapse of the Constituent Assembly and the reinstatement of wide-ranging powers to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), according to the report. This combination of events, the ICG says, would have caused untold damage to the already unstable transition. The report also argues that Morsi’s decree enjoys widespread support among Egyptians, while the unpopular liberal opposition relies on “obstructionist politics” to assert its influence on the process. However, Morsi’s declaration has served to deepen the divisions among political groups, as well as the executive and judicial branches of government. To move forward, the ICG recommends that the “president and Supreme Judicial Council should agree to restore judicial oversight over his decisions with the exception of those pertaining to the maintenance and functioning of representative political institutions, while the courts should refrain from their own overreach. Additionally, members of the Constituent Assembly who have withdrawn in protest ought to rejoin the body, while some Islamist members could resign and be replaced by constitutional law experts.”
Issandr El Amrani criticized the piece, saying the ICG’s assertion that Morsi’s power grab has enjoyed widespread support is not based on substantiated evidence. “There is no reliable information on what the general public thinks of Morsi’s decree, but anecdotal evidence suggests there is quite a bit of opposition to it,” El Amrani said. However, he did agree that the opposition has not articulated a solution to the problems that Morsi’s decrees sought to address.