Adly Mansour Issues Seriously Problematic Decree For Egypt

Adly Mansour, Egypt's Constitutional Supreme Court head and acting president, issued a decree late Monday that proposes a timetable for elections and reinstatement of the currently suspended constitution. This decree coincides with his public display of sorrow over the recent deaths of 51 Egyptians in Cairo, his guarantee of investigation into the onslaught, and urging for peace. Are the timetables an attempt to end the bloodshed or an attempt to justify it? Either way, Mansour's decree fails.

The most substantial timetable — pertaining to a new set of presidential and parliamentary elections — is completely contingent upon revision of Egypt's new constitution and a successful referendum. If all goes according to plan, Mansour says elections should take place "early next year." Mansour plans on creating two appointed committees to amend the Islamist constitution; this new document would be voted upon by Egypt's electorate within four months, according to the Associated Press. Once this happens, parliamentary elections will be held within two months afterward, or around mid-February. Once the new parliament convenes, they will have one week to set presidential elections. Ultimately, Mansour's decree promises presidential elections by late February 2014. This decree does a poor job of addressing the violent political chaos gripping Egyptian streets — the relaxed nature of the timetables mocks the severity of Egypt's current situation. Furthermore, the process of creating these constitutional reform committees relies upon the discretion of Mansour and his advising staff, ironically implicating that the revision of a constitution drafted by one elite group should be carried out by another. Is one set of biases better for a nation than another?

Moreover, the decree actually creates additional political tension through the anticipation of who will run for president, parliament, and other administrative positions in a nation marked by ideological disharmony. The results of the last set of elections demonstrate that the Egyptian electorate is torn between differing affiliations and political parties. For example, Mansour attempted to appoint Mohammed ElBaradei, leader of Egypt's Constitutional Party and arch-rival of the Muslim Brotherhood, as prime minister. Mansour later rescinded this proposal for fear that cooperating Islamist groups would withdraw their support because ElBaradei has a reputation as a "staunch secularist" and the "ultimate liberal".

To be sure, many Egyptians consider him a different type of extremist, despite his popularity with millions; "'The nomination of ElBaradei violates the road map that the political and national powers had agreed on with General Abdel Fatah al-Sissi,' Ahmed Khalil, the Nour party's deputy leader, told the state-run al-Ahram newspaper." However, ElBaradei will probably run for president given his rapport with Egypt's urban, educated classes. Ahmed Khalil might also be expected to bid for the presidency in 2014 as deputy leader of the Al-Nour Party, which carries clout for many Islamist conservatives. It is also likely that two popular socialist alliances, The New Wafd Party and The Egpytian Bloc, will have candidates in the running.

While Mansour is attempting to perform damage control in light of continued violence and death, his decree is full of loose timetables, elitist decision-making, and sectarian division.