How ElBaradei Can Promote Egypt’s Change
The decision of Mohamed ElBaradei, the former head of the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), to join Egypt’s opposition constitutes an essential push for the efforts of democratic change in the country.
This is the first time for an Egyptian figure with a highly respectable status domestically and a considerable international weight to stand in face of the regime and defy its highest authority.
The question arising here is: How could ElBaradei promote change for democracy in Egypt, and how can this historic opportunity be wisely seized?
Herein, I have general messages addressing the six major political actors in Egypt, which may help reach an answer to the question above:
1- Official Opposition Parties
Egypt’s political parties have a historic opportunity to play a leading role at this crucial time. They have to do what opposition parties and groups in many countries have done at times of democratic transition.
Thetime is ripe now for these parties to prove their credibility and patriotism. The choice is now either to support ElBaradei as a real opposition leader, while postponing all mutual conflicts, or to carry on supporting the regime for uncertain expectations or personal gains, which will further aggravate the situation in Egypt.
There is a real chance for those political parties to be real opposition capable of mobilizing the Egyptians behind a political goal and, consequently, forming true popular bases.
2- The Muslims Brotherhood (MB)
I believe that what currently facing the MB is that they should find answers to the following four questions:
1. Is empowering Egypt with a new democratic system (based upon the rule of law, alternation of power, and the independence of the judiciary) the first priority for Egypt’s supremacy internally and externally?
2. Will the domestic reform of Egypt help the country have a leading role in the Islamic and Arab Worlds?
3. Would the empowerment of Egypt be a boost for the general Islamic movement?
4. Will these moves above open the door for the MB to be a legal group and provide it with a space where it can freely practice its activities and achieve its goals?
I believe the answers to these questions should be “Yes”, regardless of all disputed issues and all forms of suppression the movement’s faithful figures have faced for decades.
3- Protest Movements (Political, Labor, and Professional)
It should be perceived that the political system is the core of the modern state. Accordingly, reforming the different state sectors, like education, health, industry, agriculture, and enhancing the status of the labor and farmers, is perfectly related to the reformation of the political system.
It is never feasible for the legitimate demands of Egypt’s doctors, professors, teachers, students, labors and farmers to be realized, and for corruption to be eliminated, as long as the political system is still too inefficient to keep pace with the contemporary world.
Hence, all of Egypt’s protest movements, including Kefaya (Enough) Movement, have to start focusing on one particular goal: The transition to democracy.
The democratic system is the only one capable of paving the road for the emergence of an elected government responsible to its nation. Such a type of government is the only guarantee that can meet the demands and needs of all the society’s sectors in this momentum period of Egypt’s history.
4- Public Figures
Public figures of Media Professionals, University Professors, Writers, Artists, and sportspersons have an important part to play at this time.
One of the impediments before the progress of the national community that calls for democracy is the weak participation of influential public figures. This reluctance opened the door for opportunists and fame seekers. Therefore, it is time to give up silence and self-imposed isolation and take the step to publicly support ElBaradei, in all forums and through all legal means.
This is crucial for ElBaradei’s success to take place, since these figures are the leaders of public opinion and have the ability to influence the masses in each sector. These figures’ credibility is a decisive factor in this context and is being tested now. Thus, being silent these days is considered a betrayal to this country’s favors enjoyed by all.
5- The Government and Ruling Party
The government has to satisfy the demands of its people and start negotiation with moderate opposition groups to discuss how true transition could be reached.
This would be better than any rigidity and strictness to obsolete matters. The participation of the ruling party in these negotiations will guarantee its future existence and participation in the new political system that all are seeking now, which is better than the total collapse.
This peaceful way was specifically witnessed during the last four decades in Eastern Europe, Latin America, South Africa, Benin, Togo, Mali and Senegal. Change is a norm of life, and it will definitely occur. No one even imagined that strong political systems such as those of the Soviet Union, Romania, South Africa, Philippines or Chili, could change.
ElBaradei has several roles to play, and he has already started. In this sense, I believe his top priority now, as he has recently hinted in a TV show, is focusing on the goal of transition to democracy, while postponing other goals to the post-transition period.
This means focusing on the minimum constitutional guarantees of democracy which entails forming a wide national alliance (a historic bloc in Antonio Gramchi’s terms) that revolves around one unified program of a minimum level of democracy, rather than a specific political, social and economic agenda.
Such a united program will set a democratic political framework that enables all political powers and trends to compete for power freely after the transition.
One of the key issues here is moderation while addressing all parties around. Thus, the door should be open for anyone who believes in the minimum level of democratic transformation and all of its guarantees to join. This has to include also the reformists inside the ruling party and those who sympathize with them.
The more proponents ElBaradei gains from the ruling party’s supporters, the more popularity and legitimacy he will realize internally and externally. Also, it is very essential to announce that the new political system will preserve the interests of all businessmen, investors, security and military apparatuses.
I believe that internal Egyptian affairs, especially those related to development, justice, freedoms, and education, provide enough guarantees to mobilize the public for the democratic demands.
As for Egypt’s foreign affairs, all issues should be handled very carefully. And I think what ElBaradei declared regarding the Palestinian issue, the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty, and the relations with the United States will not harm the political domestic movement towards democracy.
Besides, the move towards the international community is essential at this time and will help gain its support. Meanwhile, this will also end the moral support to those who oppose the transition to democracy.
The transition path could be long and full of hazards; however, the sincerity of intention and the determination to work hard will successfully ensure realizing the goal, after Allah’s will of course.