Egypt: High-Wire Acts
Fresh from a week in which he was declared the chief beneficiary of Israel’s eight-day war in Gaza, Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsi lost no time in turning his replenished guns on foes closer to home. Some of the elements of the decree he issued on Thursday were popular, even among those revolutionary groups who have bitterly opposed him on other issues. Sacking the prosecutor general, Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud, a Mubarak-era hatchet man whose blatantly tainted actions resulted in cases collapsing against attackers of demonstrators, is one. Offering cash to the victims of military and security forces’ brutality and retrials was another.
But the decision to give all his decisions immunity from appeal up until the time a new constitution is enacted and fresh parliamentary elections are held next year is in a different league. He now wields total power. And therein lies a pyramid-sized contradiction. How can you enact a transition to democracy, instil respect for the rule of law and separate the powers of the judiciary, legislative and executive, by overriding all three? He says he has done it temporarily and unwillingly, when all other options have failed, but the fact remains that he has done it. Thus Transparency International called on Mr Morsi to rethink, arguing that he needs an independent judiciary to fight against corruption and uphold the law.