Op-ed re­view: pres­i­den­tial elec­tions, po­lit­i­cal plu­ral­ity and real com­pet­i­tive­ness

A DRAFT LAW PE­NAL­IS­ING CRIT­ICS OF HIS­TOR­I­CAL FIG­URES HAS RAISED SOME CON­CERNS

The Daily News Egypt - - Front Page - By Amira El-Fekki

The World Youth Fo­rum (WYF) held in Sharm El-Sheikh last week took over much of lo­cal news cov­er­age and led op-ed writ­ers to tackle dif­fer­ent as­pects of the event, write about the pres­i­dent and raise, or re­spond to, crit­i­cism to state poli­cies. Much of the fo­cus is ex­pected to turn to­wards the up­com­ing pres­i­den­tial elec­tions, the po­lit­i­cal scene and state in­sti­tu­tions’ per­for­mance.

Pro-state jour­nal­ist and TV host Ahmed Moussa wrote in Al-Ahram, the state-run daily news­pa­per, about the re-ap­pear­ance of fig­ures who be­trayed the coun­try and its peo­ple, say­ing they claim to speak in the name of “bread, free­dom and democ­racy.”

With­out nam­ing them, Moussa said those peo­ple – who pre­vi­ously al­lied with the out­lawed Mus­lim Broth­er­hood and work against the army, po­lice, and ju­di­ciary – are try­ing once again to take the spot­light, shame­lessly, won­der­ing “who is al­low­ing snakes to spread poi­sons again,” and ar­gu­ing that they have lost the peo­ple’s trust.

Moussa is known for his hos­til­ity to­wards the 25 Jan­uary 2011 rev­o­lu­tion and po­lit­i­cal ac­tivists, and his column comes a few days af­ter lawyer Khaled Ali, po­lit­i­cally rep­re­sent­ing the op­po­si­tion, an­nounced his in­ten­tion to con­test the up­com­ing pres­i­den­tial elec­tions.

Ac­cord­ingly, “Khaled Ali’s present to Al-Sisi” was the ti­tle of Al-Shorouk’s writer Mo­hamed Saad Ab­del Hafiz, a mem­ber of the Press Syn­di­cate’s board coun­cil. Ab­del Hafiz said that the­o­ret­i­cally and ac­cord­ing to Al-Sisi’s speech in the WYF, the race is open to any can­di­date.

“Prac­ti­cally, there are strong in­di­ca­tions that we aren’t go­ing to have any plu­ral­ism in the up­com­ing elec­tions,” he wrote, cit­ing, “moral as­sas­si­na­tion and sys­tem­atic dis­tor­tion cam­paigns against any­one who dares crit­i­cis­ing or barely mak­ing re­marks on the cur­rent regime.”

Ab­del Hafiz said those rea­sons would also af­fect ob­jec­tive eval­u­a­tive re­ac­tions to the state­ment of ac­count­abil­ity ex­pected to be pre­sented by Al-Sisi. As such, he ar­gued that Ali’s de­ci­sion is brave amidst an at­mos­phere of fear, but that he might also start think­ing of with­draw­ing in the face of such chal­lenges.

Po­lit­i­cal plu­ral­ity was also the sub­ject of politi­cian Osama El-Ghaz­aly Harb’s column in Al-Ahram. The pres­i­dent of the Pres­i­den­tial De­tained Youth Com­mit­tee dis­cussed the role of var­i­ous, well-es­tab­lished po­lit­i­cal par­ties in pre­sent­ing and sup­port­ing pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates, but that they also play an im­por­tant role in help­ing po­lit­i­cal sys­tems ma­ture.

Harb opin­ion­ated that there should be pri­or­ity given to demo­cratic de­vel­op­ment, es­pe­cially given the cur­rent weak­ness of po­lit­i­cal par­ties, partly as a re­sult of op­pres­sion.

On Sun­day, a daily colum­nist in Al-Masry Al-Youm who goes by the name “New­ton” crit­i­cised a draft law aimed at crim­i­nal­is­ing in­sult­ing pub­lic fig­ures, sub­mit­ted by a mem­ber of par­lia­ment. Writ­ing that the law sets strict pri­son terms for vaguely de­fined crimes, New­ton ar­gued that “any ci­ti­zen would prob­a­bly face legal ac­count­abil­ity for speak­ing of his grand­par­ents,” he wrote.

There was re­cent con­tro­versy when scholar Youssef Zi­dan called Ayyu­bid Sul­tan Salah El-Din – iconised as the lib­er­a­tor of Jerusalem – de­spi­ca­ble, for crimes against hu­man­ity that he com­mit­ted against the Fa­timids. New­ton ar­gued in favour of the ex­am­i­na­tion and eval­u­a­tion of the lega­cies of those who in­flu­enced and shaped Egypt.

Mean­while, jour­nal­ist Se­li­man Gouda, a sup­porter of Pres­i­dent Ab­del Fat­tah Al-Sisi, wrote a column in his de­fence, clear­ing him of re­spon­si­bil­ity for the delay in the open­ing of new Ja­panese schools, which left hun­dreds of stu­dents in un­cer­tainty just be­fore the start of the 2018 aca­demic year.

Gouda ar­gued that the pres­i­dent was left with no op­tions when his min­is­ter of Education failed to do his job, since he was re­spon­si­ble for his min­istry for a pe­riod of eight months, ac­cus­ing the min­is­ter of mis­lead­ingly try­ing to blame the pres­i­dency and evade duty, and called on par­lia­ment to ques­tion him.

Pres­i­dent Ab­del Fat­tah Al-Sisi said dur­ing the WYF that the con­sti­tu­tion stated only two pres­i­den­tial terms and this must be re­spected

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