Home inContext Political Transition Accelerates in Egypt

Political Transition Accelerates in Egypt

Beth Kanopsic

Renewed clashes broke out Monday night between Egypt’s army and supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi leaving seven people dead and more than 260 wounded. The grim news added to the Muslim Brotherhood’s existing outrage – 50 Morsi supporters died last week outside a military compound in Cairo supposedly holding the former President. Even as the Brotherhood held demonstrations in the streets, the new army-backed interim government began setting up a roadmap for a return to democratic governance.

On July 8th, the interim President Adly Mansour detailed a new timetable for constitutional reform and presidential and parliamentary elections. Pushed by the army to accelerate the military’s exit from politics, the interim president suspended the constitution drawn up by the Islamist government. Mansour acounced 10 lawyers will draw up changes within a month. Fifty civil-society leaders, judges, and legal experts will review the changes for two months, with a final version put to a referendum a month later. Presidential elections could follow primary elections as early as a year.

Interim President Adly Mansour, center, with his new cabinet ministers at the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt on July 16, 2013. (Photo: AP)

The violence has subsequently overshadowed the imperative political process taking place, Mansour also swore in a new cabinet on Tuesday composed of technocrats and liberals, including three women. According to Voice of America, a spokesman for the interim president says he also expected Islamists to join national reconciliations efforts.

While the Egyptian military attempts to contain demonstrators, the U.S. officials have tacitly endorsed the new political process. White House spokesman Jay Carney explained, “…Egyptians have legitimate grievances with President Morsi’s undemocratic form of governance and they do not believe that this was a coup.” On Monday Deputy Secretary of State William Burns visited interim President Mansour and General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. He reiterated the need for an “inclusive, democratically elected civilian government.”

While the Muslim brotherhood promises that protests will continue until Morsi is reinstated as president, many Egyptians see little hope for compromise.