Egypt - The unfinished democratic agenda
21 December 2012
The Socialist International continues to closely follow developments in Egypt. Last weekend President Mohammed Morsi went ahead with the referendum on a new constitution for the country, despite strong disagreement from opposition parties and amid on-going street protests that have already seen several lives lost. This weekend will now see the conclusion of the vote.
Opposition groups had called on Morsi to postpone the referendum after strongly criticising the draft constitution. In the run-up to these events, a decree was issued in early December by President Morsi granting himself un-challengeable powers, which shocked both the Egyptian people and the international community. This was followed by his decision to rush the referendum on the contested new draft constitution and, although Morsi invited opposition parties to the table and promised to rescind his decree, his refusal to postpone the referendum was met with a rejection for dialogue. The SI has been deeply troubled by the fact that despite the lack of an accord, the vote went ahead without a proper process of consultation on such a fundamental matter.
The referendum’s voting procedure resulted furthermore in reports of extensive irregularities, including a lack of impartial supervision, polls closing early and, in some instances, women reporting difficulties being allowed to cast votes. If, according to the interpretation given of the partial results so far, the constitution is narrowly accepted, the reports of irregularities along with the significantly low voter turnout recorded would indicate a referendum result that is far from genuinely representative of the will of the people.
The Socialist International therefore calls for serious efforts to be made to resume the path of dialogue to rescue the way forward for democracy at this significant juncture in Egyptian history. The new political foundations of the future Egypt must be democratic in their construction and ensure the rights and freedoms of all people, regardless of religion, belief or gender. Any further loss of life or injury to those people defending their rights on the streets is totally unacceptable.
After the loss of more than 800 lives in the 2011 uprising, it is imperative not to forget what those brave Egyptians died for, or to lose momentum on consolidating the democratic advances. The Socialist International, which warmly welcomed the change brought about by the revolution, and which continues to stand by all those who are still striving for a fully democratic state, reiterates its solidarity with all those who share the ideals and principles of social democracy in Egypt today and all those who continue mobilised and engaged to defend the democratic goals of the revolution.