Amongst heightened expectations of mass protest across Egypt this weekend, President Mohamed Morsi wielded the might of the state and pre-emptively deployed the army to key government ministries and the Suez Canal to avoid an embarrassing mass mobilisation of protestors calling for his resignation. In a further step sure to fan the flames of frustration, he began legal proceedings against several judges and removed airwave regulators in an attempt to cement his position and that of the Islamic Muslim Brotherhood.
In a speech on Wednesday, he echoed what many leaders under siege across the globe are thinking about protests within their own countries: “Enough”!
There is a good reason for him to emit such a shriek of fear – a petition declaring him “unfit to administer a country the size of Egypt” has been signed by fifteen million citizens. A large proportion of these are expected to turn out en masse this Sunday to add voice to their demands.
A movement, calling itself “Tamarod”, or rather “rebellion” has transformed the protests of Tahir square from a random and general one into a well-oiled and organised machine. Parallel to the waning popularity of the President, who had won due to the Muslim Brotherhood filling in the vaccum that the disorganised masses were unable to fill with their multiple and difficult-to-differentiate objectives, Tamarod is quickly becoming the real opposition to Morsi and his following.
Nonetheless, instead of seeking new parliamentary elections it engages in signing petitions and organising street protests. Along these lines, discernable leaders within the movement have already declared they would call for the boycott of any elections.
Which is the first problem: to set up a formidable opposition that seeks to create real and meaningful change in the way peoples’ lives are lived, Tamarod cannot turn its back to the democratic way of politics. After all, fifteen million signatures exceeds the number of people who voted for the President himself, and can be used to infuse the Egyptian parliament with representatives of the voice behind the petition to ensure extremely biased acts, such as the legislation of the new constitution, cannot occur again.
The second problem is that, after taking a closer look, their aims are not much different to those expressed by the masses two and a half years ago in Tahir square, namely, the desire to topple their President. Without any clear policies of how to improve, say, the standard of living in Egypt, people will be reluctant to show their trust in such opposition movements at the ballot box – that is, if they decide to stand for the elections.
Lastly, it will eventually need international recognition, which is hard to come by at the best of times in such a divided country. This is exasperated, nonetheless, if a movement is aiming solely for the resignation of a President that was put into power through a democratic voting procedure and is set to lead for a set amount of years.
The unfolding situation in Egypt is both, exciting and worrying, at the same time. Exciting because of the rise of a mass movement and worrying because of the probabiliy of violence and the vagueness of the Tamarod. Before it is too late, Tamarod needs to grasp the democratic tools that have been placed at its feet after the forceful removal of former President Mubarak.