International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

President Morsi’s New Powers

President Mohamed Morsi of Egypt has issued a decree granting himself powerful executive powers and immunity from legal challenge.  He has done so with the supposed purpose of protecting the transition to democracy and to fulfill popular demands for justice.  A major objective of this action is to do away with the remnants of the judicial system left over from Mubarak’s rule, specifically the dismissal of prosecutor-general Abdel Maguid Mahmoud and the order of retrials for Mubarak and other officers for killings of civilian protestors during the uprising. President Morsi had previously tried to remove Mahmoud after the acquittals of the Camel Battle case, but failed to do so.

Since this declaration, many Egyptian citizens have begun protesting, critical of “Pharaoh Morsi.”  Amr Hamzawy, a prominent Egyptian political scientist has stated that, “Egypt is facing a horrifying coup against legitimacy and the rule of law and a complete assassination of the democratic transition.”

President Morsi has stated that he is acting in the name of justice and to protect the goals of the revolution; however, in doing so, he is suppressing the independence of the judicial system and the civil liberties of the people.  The retrials of Mubarak and co. seem to me to be mainly an attempt at political vengeance and legitimization.  Despite popular division in opinion, justice should not come at this cost.

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2 responses to “President Morsi’s New Powers

  1. mahletyared November 24, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    Though President Morsi has a deep concern for the stability of Egypt in his decree, what kind of message does this send to Egyptian people who fought for a government that would not confine their civil liberties? Having been arrested by Mubarak’s regime himself, it is of concern that President Morsi may hold grudges against those who are still supporters of Mubarak and use the unchanged judicial system to give himself the power of revenge. Though this is somewhat an extrapolation, it is very difficult to maintain stability when such absolute power in the judicial system is simply transferred from one regime to another.
    By putting himself in a position to fulfill political vengeance, President Morsi is setting a poor example for the people who are still overcoming Egypt’s previous state of political turmoil. How are those of the opposing political parties supposed to feel that their civil liberties will be protected under President Morsi? One of the primary goals of the Egypt’s change in government is to guarantee the protection of human rights and civil liberties, supported by a fair judicial system. Furthermore, if President Morsi’s regime were to violate any of these rights that are guaranteed to the Egyptian people, the international community would only interfere when it is too late because the domestic judicial system should be responsible for handling crimes of a smaller scale. Hopefully, President Morsi will reconsider his decree upon the reactions and concerns of the international community, remembering that he is reversing the level of democracy that he was once fighting for.

  2. parvathy249 November 25, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    President Mohamed Morsi does not have a legitimate reason for his recent decree that would make him virtually immune from judiciary oversight. Egypt’s judiciary has joined the growing opposition to the recent set of decrees by President Morsi, which have provoked public outrage. What the people are displeased about is completely acceptable but the way they are going about it is not, and as a consequence, will not bring justice but only more violence and unrest.

    Since the violence started, twenty-six political parties and three former presidential candidates have backed widespread protest movements in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. Even though a revolution started by protests allowed Egypt to overthrow its dictator, it does not mean that protest are going to be the only way to bring justice and more importantly, democracy to their country. If anything, constant protests will only dilute the meaning of what the people want even further. Throwing rocks at the police, lighting city centers on fire, and creating unrest makes the people look like they do not seek *other* democratic means to bring justice. In some ways, the people are igniting the coup that they fear so much. Coup d’états have been seen to be the culmination of civilian unrest and lack of action by the civilian government, this paves the way for a military intervention. If the people continue to protest and not take other action their efforts will be ineffective.

    Revolutionary forces opposed to the president’s move have called for a new popular protest in Tahrir Square on Tuesday. Some demonstrators have set up a tent camp in the square reminiscent of last year’s popular protests against the government of ousted president Hosni Mubarak. Partisans of Mr. Morsi are also calling for a demonstration to support him Sunday.

    It seems like popular movements followed by more protests bring a sort of superficial solution to the problem; however, when justice happens through trials and other judicial and democratic means it is long lasting and sustainable. The people should try to appeal to the judiciary and support that branch of government in overriding Morsi’s efforts.

    Judges in Alexandria, for instance, have announced they will go on strike to protest the decrees. Additionally, Mahmoud – Egypt’s prosecutor general – received a standing ovation by members of Egypt’s Judge’s Club, after telling them that he will appeal the president’s decision to the judiciary. Mahmoud said he will insist on the application of all legal articles, including those that deal with the powers of the judiciary and the position of general prosecutor.

    Furthermore, the people could also appeal to the international community. Senator John McCain, said Sunday that the Obama administration should threaten to withhold financial aid from Egypt unless President Mohammed Morsi rescinds a recent decree that grants his office sweeping new powers. This is an iniciative that would be highly effective and would marshal international opinion while adding additional pressure on Morsi and his supporters.

    This situation poses several questions, how can civil society bring justice in ways that prevent violence and not ignite it? Are positive relationships between civil society and the military unbalancing for the country’s civilian government or are they preferred to assure a balance of power? Additionally, are coups good for democracy at times?

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