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Mubarak Refuses to Go: What, Who and Where Next?

Mubarak Refuses to Go: What, Who and Where Next?

Now that Mubarak is refusing to go, it is obvious that there will be more questions than answers. The horse trading and political recycling can now begin in earnest.  It is the dawn of a new beginning.  It is ironical that the political avalanche that will sweep Mubarak out of power was conceived in a little village in Tunisia.  The domino effect has left significant ripples along the political oceans of the Middle East. Such ripples have been felt far and wide, with varying consequences. Along the way, lives have been lost and fractured.  (Photo: Abdulai Mansaray)

The change that is taking place in Egypt has all the hallmarks of a tectonic shift in the political arena. The looming questions facing the power auctioneers are what next, who next and where next, if Mubarak decides to leave finally? I must admit that I had already written my valedictory piece before learning that Mubarak had had another sip of his political opium, to feed his hubris. He has been stubborn and as we know, man’s worst ill is stubbornness of the heart, for a man will do more for his stubbornness than for his country or religion. A stubborn mind conduces as little to wisdom or even to knowledge, as a stubborn temper to happiness.

It is with great hope that the outcome of all this will result in a stable, secular and democratic Egypt. However, my heart sank the other day, when Omar Suleiman, the current landlord of the Egyptian government, or what is left of it, stated that the country had no experience of democracy; and that he was worried about the outcome. You can’t get a better political own goal than that. Mr. Suleiman must have suffered from temporary amnesia, that it is because of him, Mubarak and his cohorts that the people of Egypt had not tasted democracy in the first place. It is because of their despotic and authoritarian rule that mere mention of democracy had remained a taboo and swear word for over 30 years. If Suleiman’s gaffe is anything to go by, I don’t hold my breath. Thankfully, he has reportedly withdrawn his statement, citing that his opinion was taken out of context. Yea right; blame the messenger.

Mubarak thinks that he is in the theatre and as such, fast becoming the political clown of the circus from the Middle East. What he fails to realise is that the people of Egypt have said that his position is non-negotiable. In his speech, he stated that “I express a commitment to carry on and protect the constitution and the people and transfer power to whomever is elected next September in free and transparent elections”. I am intrigued by the words “free and transparent elections”; a luxury he has denied his people for 30 years, but had just had a dose of reality check to know that now. Everybody thinks of changing humanity, but nobody thinks of changing themselves. He that would govern others first should be the master of himself; for you can only lead others where you yourself are prepared to go.

I mentioned in my last piece that the West will have a balancing act to follow. I cautioned about America, being the outsider and weeping more than the bereaved. I intimated on the dangers of the pressure from the West being construed as an imposition on the people of Egypt. This has now come to pass, as Mubarak, in his desperate bid to wrestle the political upper hand is now preaching, though subtly, his jingoistic gospel: that “ the country’s emergency laws would only be lifted when conditions were right, and that he would ignore diktats from abroad”. This was a veiled swipe at his former friends from Washington, Paris and right down to Downing Street. He feels abandoned by his “friends” but will now try to whip up anti-western sentiments.

I am not being prophetic but I did see this coming, no shocks there. Don’t be surprised if he says that the current condemnation of his rule is a crusade against Islam. “Every dictator uses religion as a prop to keep himself in power (Benazir Bhutto). Don’t be shocked if Mubarak invites the Muslim Brotherhood to a Tea Party.   Mr. Suleiman asked the youths to go home and not listen to the TV or radio. Well the regime had already made sure of that, when the only transmission available to the people was the government controlled station. This is like threatening a blind man with power cut.

Leading opposition leader has asked the army to “save the country before it explodes”. The west should take a leaf out of this. If Mubarak is to leave power, he should be side stepped. The West should now start dealing with the army and marginalise Mubarak. He may have the most loyal supporters but the fact that unlike previous times, they have resisted all temptations to brutalise the people, is suggestive that shift of loyalty may be possible. The army has repeatedly said that they were in the Square to protect the people. It might not be the best political prescription, but if it means that the army should take over BRIEFLY to get rid of Mubarak, so be it. I am sure that there are a lot of candidates that the West can do business with, albeit in the short term. In addition, all of Mubarak’s appointed diplomatic corps should be repatriated from all Western embassies.  Like Franklin Roosevelt said, “we defend and we build a way of life, not for America alone, but for all mankind”. A slow but effective political decapitation (pardon the pun) should now be the next course of action. The caution here though, is that nothing destroys authority so much as the unequal and untimely interchange of power. It can be either pressed too far or relaxed too much.

A lot of scepticism has been raised about the lack of leadership from the opposition. The Muslim Brotherhood, which had hitherto been the most vocal, has gone into submission; thanks to the fears expressed by the West about their potential to take over and establish a Sharia state. Like the people of Egypt, you can have a mission without a leader, but no leader without a mission. The problem is that Mubarak has been trusted with unlimited power for too long. “ Power will intoxicate even the best hearts, as wine the best heads, but no man is wise enough, nor good enough to be trusted with unlimited power” ( Charles Colton). He was allowed to hold the fear of his people in his hand for too long.  People were amused at his foolishness and allowed him to stay. He is slowly putting a knife to the strings that held Egyptians together, and they are no longer acting as one. Things will fall apart, if the centre cannot hold. Thank you Chinua Achebe. Don’t forget to turn the lights out when you leave the room, as many sharpen their pens to write Mubarak’s political epitaph.

Abdulai Mansaray

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