Crisis of transition to democracy in Egypt
- Parliamentary Assembly
- Assembly debate on
28 June 2012 (25th Sitting) (see Doc. 12981, report of the Committee
on Political Affairs and Democracy, rapporteur: Mr Gardetto). Text
adopted by the Assembly on 28 June 2012 (25th Sitting).
1. While the Parliamentary Assembly
welcomes the election of the first civilian president in Egypt,
following a ballot which, overall, was deemed to be free and fair,
as a historical step in the country’s transition to democracy, it
is deeply concerned that this follows the dissolution of the recently
elected parliament and the constitutional changes enacted by the
Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).
2. The newly elected president, who comes from the ranks of the
Muslim Brotherhood, appears to enjoy the necessary legitimacy to
initiate the badly needed reforms to build a civil administration
free from the corrupt practices of the past and boost the Egyptian
economy, which has suffered dramatically over the last year. The international
community and Council of Europe member States could help in this
respect, in particular by encouraging investments in the country.
3. The Assembly notes, however, that the newly elected president
will first have to face the challenge of reassuring the Egyptian
people, who long for security and stability and the chance to rebuild
the country’s economy, but who are, at the same time, deeply polarised.
There is, in particular, a need to reassure the revolutionary movement,
which fears the confiscation of the goals of the revolution by the
military, on the one hand, and by the Islamists, on the other. The
choices the new president will make in forming his government will
be decisive in this respect.
4. The announcement of the election results on 24 June 2012,
after a four-day delay, has given rise to some optimism today in
the country and within the international community, in particular
as it has obviated the fears of possible widespread violence.
5. However, the Assembly is deeply concerned about a series of
recent developments which constitute real obstacles to a slowly
emerging democracy in a country which has virtually no democratic
6. The Assembly is, in particular, concerned about the dissolution
of the parliament, following a ruling by the Constitutional Court
on 14 June 2012, declaring the election of one third of parliamentarians
on the single candidate list unconstitutional. The dissolution of
parliament has thus erased the first parliamentary elections held
in the post-Mubarak era, in which some 30 million people participated
and which were deemed to be generally free and fair.
7. Moreover, an interim Constitutional Declaration adopted by
the SCAF on 17 June 2012 granted the latter legislative powers until
a new parliament is once again functioning and reinforced its own
role in the drafting of the future constitution. The declaration
stripped the president of the country of powers in the field of
the budget and in foreign and defence policy, which will be retained
by the military.
8. Whereas the lifting of the state of emergency on 31 May 2012
has been welcomed as a positive development, a decree issued by
the SCAF on 13 June 2012 has given the military broad powers of
arrest and detention of civilians for trial in military courts.
9. The Assembly thus notes that serious questions arise as to
the future of the democratic transition in Egypt. A fundamental
challenge lying ahead is what will be the design of the balance
of powers in Egypt in the near future and, in particular, how the
army will finally share power with the newly elected president and
his future government, and when a new parliament will start functioning
and resume its full legislative role.
10. At the same time, without doubting the legitimacy of the new
president or underestimating the importance of his election, caution
is called for regarding fundamental issues such as the role of women
or of religious minorities in Egypt. Thus the question arises whether
or not the Sharia will be recognised as a primary source of the
law in the future constitution and, if so, how the Sharia can be
reconciled with the principles of the rule of law and how the declared
equality between men and women, Muslims and Christians can be effectively
The Assembly in particular deplores that the situation of
Christian communities in Egypt has not improved with the Arab Spring
and the fall of Mubarak, and that violence continues to be perpetrated
against these communities as well as against other religious minorities.
The Assembly thus calls on the Council of Europe member States to
implement the measures listed in its Recommendation 1957 (2011)
on violence against
Christians in the Middle East. It asks them in particular to take
into account the situation of Christian and other religious communities
in their bilateral political dialogues and to promote a policy,
at national and Council of Europe levels, which integrates the issue
of the respect for the fundamental rights of Christian and other
religious minorities in their relations with Egypt.
12. The Assembly notes in conclusion that the question of the
new constitution is emblematic and that all crucial issues listed
above must be tackled, in one way or another, in this fundamental
text. In this respect, the Assembly underlines the important beneficial
role which the Council of Europe could play, through its European Commission
for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission), which has unique
and internationally recognised experience in constitutional drafting.
The Assembly finally recalls its Resolution 1831 (2011)
between the Council of Europe and the emerging democracies in the
Arab world, and reiterates its readiness to share its experience
in the field of democratic transition with the Egyptian institutions,
in order to facilitate the difficult political transition in what is
the largest country in the Middle East.