Mubarakism Without Mubarak
Washington, D.C.—Following media reports that former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is on life support, Human Rights First International Policy Advisor Neil Hicks made the following statement: “Mubarak’s legacy is a military-backed security state that constitutes the main obstacle to a peaceful democratic transition in Egypt. The security state is still alive and it would seem as if Mubarakism is set to continue even after Mubarak’s death.” Human Rights First expressed disappointment yesterday that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) will not live up to its pledge to hand over power to an elected civilian government by June 30. This is a serious failure for which the SCAF bears full responsibility. From the early days of Egypt’s transition from the 30-year Mubarak dictatorship the SCAF has resisted calls to install a civilian transitional authority and to dilute its grip on power. On June 17 the SCAF issued amendments to its March 30, 2011 constitutional declaration that expands its powers. Among the most important are:
- Under revised Article 56 the SCAF takes on the powers of the legislature, until new parliamentary elections are held.
- Under revised Article 60 the SCAF provides itself powers to appoint the constituent assembly charged with writing a new constitution
- Revised Article 53 reinforces the SCAF’s control over military affairs, including powers to appoint its own members and to award the head of SCAF the positions of commander in chief of the armed forces – previously a post held by the President– and Minister of Defense.
- The amendments to Article 53 also provide a constitutional foundation for the military’s broad powers to detain citizens.
Human Rights First continues to urge the Obama administration to call on the SCAF to:
- Provide a firm timeline for the drafting of a new constitution, its approval by referendum and the holding of new parliamentary elections to replace the parliament dissolved by the SCC last week.
- Support the formation of a constituent assembly that reflects a broad range of political opinion and in particular ensure representation for women, and representatives of religious minorities.
- Provide all necessary support and resources for the development of a new constitution that expands civilian control over the military and in particular provides for public scrutiny of the military budget.
- While the SCAF remains in effective control of the country it must uphold the basic rights and freedoms of all Egyptians. It must protect rights of freedom of assembly and ensure that protesters are not abused. It should not detain peaceful protesters. It must uphold freedom of expression and protect the rights of religious minorities. It should end the persecution of independent civil society organizations, including the ongoing criminal investigations and prosecution of several human rights and democracy promotion organizations.