Egyptians - and the rest of the world perhaps - must be asking how they ended up with a Mubarak appointee and a conservative Islamist competing in a presidential poll which is shaping up to be a referendum on the actual Mubarak trial.  

The pictures from Egypt’s Tahrir Square are familiar.  The dilemma, solving a political Rubik’s cube, the likes of which Egyptians surely never foresaw.

After the sentencing of Hosni Mubarak but the acquittal of six of his top officials and his two sons, Egyptians have been thrown into an incredibly difficult situation on a number of fronts.

Not the least is the potential impact the trial outcome will have on the upcoming Presidential election run-off.

Egyptian prosecutors have announced they will appeal the Mubarak verdict, widely seen as a sham, but that appeal won’t produce anything of use before the June 16-17 poll.

In the rush to have Mubarak charged last year, it seems not enough legal leg work was done to identify and back-up the most serious charges that could be brought against him and his henchmen. This meant the trial judge could only convict the former strongman of failing to do enough to stop the killings of civilians rather than find him guilty of actually ordering the killings. 

Mubarak still got the life sentence - although given the state of his health he’s unlikely to actually rot away his last years in a dingy cell. Prison hospital is possibly where he will do his time.  His Minister of the Interior, Habib Al Adly, also got life.

However, the issue for those back in Tahrir is that the men who were surely closer to pulling the triggers and engaging in the slaughter of so many Egyptians during the uprisings are off the hook.

That smacks of a political trial, perhaps not helped by the fact that the judges presiding in Egypt’s courts are Mubarak appointees.

Essentially, because Mubarak and Al Adly were convicted of being accessories to murder, no-one is being held accountable for the actual state-condoned murders.  For the families of the victims and the thousands who were injured and risked their lives day after day, it is an unacceptable outcome. 

Hence the upcoming election has quickly morphed into a referendum on the Mubarak trial which has in turn, played midwife to a very politically charged situation - something that was missing from the original protests 16 months ago.

Egyptians face a stark choice. Do they trust Mubarak’s former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik to take over the top job without going back to the dark days of how he and the rest of the executive ran the show? Or, do Egyptians make a clean break and throw their votes behind the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, trusting his promises that he will not turn Egypt into a strict Islamist society?

Conservative Islamist or symbol of thuggery? 

Of course the nature of elections is that they are polarizing and groaning with promises. So often they are contests between candidates who are hardly stellar choices for running their own lives, let alone entire countries.

Egypt, as a brand new democracy that is still under military control was never going to have elections without hiccups, yet there has been precious little criticism of the mechanics of first round of the Presidential vote. 

Given their recent history, Egyptians must also be given a break for not quite trusting in their emerging system and heading back to Tahrir Square when they feel insecure.

This choice they face in the run-off election is, quite frankly, terrifying.

Imagine having two candidates who could potentially destroy the revolution that demanded so much of Egyptian citizens?

Many Egyptians are asking themselves how they got to the point where they have now to chose between polar opposites, and, to be fair, the rest of the world is probably asking that very same question.

It’s often the result of having so many candidates that the vote is split in unpredictable ways.

Now Egyptians have to decide which of the two candidates - each accusing the other of hijacking the revolution - they trust the most or hate the least.

Talk about being between a pyramid and a hard place.

Comments (1)

by glenn p on June 05, 2012
glenn p

I enjoyed reading the summary, and it will be fascinating to see how Egypt develops over the next few years. Given what Egyptians have had to suffer to get democratic elections, I desperately hope there are good times ahead.

Egyptians - and the rest of the world perhaps - must be asking how they ended up with a Mubarak appointee and a conservative Islamist competing in a presidential poll which is shaping up to be a referendum on the actual Mubarak trial

This is the part that I'm not sure I follow. Surely all that we hoped for was that the Egyptian people get to elect their leaders, which it appears they are. Whether Egyptians vote for who we would like them to vote for is irrelevant isn't it? And did people think that all Egyptians would want to vote for the same candidate and that there would be a collective agreement on what is good for Egypt? If the successful candidate resorts to infringing on people's rights in the same way that Mubarak did, I doubt they will last long given that the population stood up to Mubarak.

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