On Sunday, Egyptian voters head to the polls for the final day of voting in the country's run off for its presidential election, but the election has not come without its fair share of controversy.
In the wake of Egypt’s presidential run-off, reformers were dealt a hard blow by two different courts when the parliament was dissolved and Ahmed Shafiq was permitted to continue his presidential bid. The dissolution of parliament left the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) in control of holding together (or regrouping) the constituent assembly tasked with writing the country’s new constitution. Meanwhile, affirmation of Shafiq’s eligibility further compounded the belief that SCAF was aiming to maintain power post election.
Historically, the military has benefited from heightened positions of power since the Free Officers ousted King Farouk and consolidated power within the military elite. Nasr’s successor, Anwar Sadat, was a high-ranking member of the Free Officers and Nasr’s vice-president. In similar fashion, Hosni Mubarak, an air force officer, was named Sadat’s vice-president, and later became president when Sadat was assassinated during the 6 October celebrations.
Throughout this entire period, the military has maintained an elite status. Mohamed Tantawi, the head of SCAF, was a trusted friend and ally of Mubarak. Other high-ranking officials in the Mubarak regime were also military officers, including Omar Suleiman and Ahmed Shafiq. This military history is the grounding for the current situation.
While a close ally of Mubarak, it is highly suspected that SCAF ultimately intervened and silently forced Mubarak’s resignation after 18 days of protests, all for the sake of maintaining military control.
Egypt is faced with an unpalatable choice between the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi and Mubarak holdover Ahmed Shafiq. There have been several allegations of fraud leading to Shafiq’s securing of the final place in the run off.
Ever the opportunists, the MB has not shied away from attempting to profit from the discord that has erupted in the wake of recent court decisions. Proclaiming that he was the salvation for the crumbling revolution, Mohamed Morsi has upped the rhetoric. The irony of course being that Morsi and the MB has never really been with the revolution, instead using it as a pawn in their political power grab when it was convenient.
With the first day of voting over, turnout has been abysmally low. The choice between Morsi and Shafiq has left many abstaining. It is uncertain who will win the election. The prospect of either being president is horrifying, but sadly, one will be announced the winner.
As stated before, it is in SCAF’s best interest for Shafiq to be the winner, however, the MB is not without its history of negotiations and dealings with Mubarak to maintain a power equilibrium. The only thing certain is that neither candidate is truly interested in reform, but rather to maximize his own self interests while pulling the figurative wool over the eyes of the populous.
This election won’t be won by ideas, but by the perceived lesser of two evils. The official results, as has already been shown, will reflect who SCAF believes to be the best president to maintain their status as political elites.