Egypt at a Crossroads, and Hamdeen Sabahi (Piece from last year)


Egypt will go to the polls this weekend to vote in the final rounds of the presidential elections. The recent elections in Egypt have been somewhat marred by political chaos. The result of the planned elections, which were triggered by the removal of the corrupt Mubarak regime, will prove to be pivotal in the future of the Arab nation. 

The first rounds of voting indicated that two candidates, Ahmed Shafik and Mohamed Morsi, were leading the polls. Shafik was former President Mubarak’s Prime Minister very briefly so a decision is to be made of the legitimacy of his campaign. Morsi is a functionary of the Muslim Brotherhood, a right wing conservative. 

Egypt finds itself at a crossroads; one path leads back into despotism and barbarism in my view but the other path will undoubtedly deliver Egypt from backwards, religious  leadership. But the religious have the initiative. The alternative to conservative, sectarian presidency comes in the form of Hamdeen Sabahi. Sabahi is a secular leftist and gained a moderate percentage of votes in the first rounds. He is an interesting figure.

He has been an outspoken megaphone of the left in Egypt for 30 years and has been imprisoned on many occasions as a consequence. A fierce critic of the corruption of the Mubarak regime he offers a brighter future for Egypt. If elected he said he will wage a war, but not on Israel, on poverty. His stance on Israel is somewhat indifferent with undertones of hostility but he certainly does not want a war. 

He aims to raise up the large, poverty stricken population to a level ‘above dignity’. His focus will solely be on Egypt and the Egyptian people of whom he has had to watch exploited by 30 years of political corruption. With regards to the race for the presidency he intends to reduce the importance of the role of the president, He maintains that Mubarak has overly centralized the power of decision making in Egypt. The idea is to de-centralize the decision making process and power and to place the power in the hands of a democratically elected parliament. This will increase transparency, accountability and generally democratize what has been a political mess for 30 years. 

As a socialist his emphasis is on the people. He is a man of the people, and even took part in the revolution in January. ”Bread, freedom, social justice and human dignity. These are the slogans that guide my candidacy for presidency”. The revolution in January and the intensity of the debate over the elections shows that Egyptian people are looking for reform and want a democratically elected president who will bring prosperity, freedom and one free of corruption. 

In Sabahi they can be assured of progress towards a stable democracy and freedom from corrupt politics and authoritarian leadership. One of his first moves if elected will be an anti-corruption legislation which they so dearly need. And also a new and revised constitution. 

Egypt is a major player in the Arab world so it is important that the presidency does not go to an Islamist candidate. This is not overt prejudice but pragmatic on my behalf. With tensions between Israel and Egypt ever simmering away it is vitally important that a religious leader not be voted in. Sabahi is a secularist that does not seek to intensify the relationship between the states. The way forward for Egypt would be a secular candidate. Religion and politics shouldn’t mix and it is especially important in Muslim countries. 


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