Thursday, December 13, 2012

Can Morsi pull Egypt together?

Though he has recently rescinded two controversial decrees, Mohamed Morsi’s decision-making style has many Egyptians worried.

The more troubling of these two decrees was a constitutional declaration (made November 22) that essentially gave Morsi supreme power over the country and barred the courts from countering any of decisions. Understandably, the country that had just booted out their previous leader for his dictatorial ways balked at this new development. Widespread public protests and the resignation of eight of Morsi’s advisors led the president to nix that edict last week. 

“Guys, guys. Easy. I said I only wanted to have this power temporarily. I don’t know what everyone was getting so twitchy about, but I’ll give it back now. Gosh.”

Many of Morsi’s former advisors are speaking out about their president’s decision-making process.  While they describe him as open-minded and respectful of all viewpoints, they claim that his final decisions do not reflect their counsel at all. In fact, these former advisors say that they were often surprised by the decisions that the president made. This is particularly irksome to them, and the greater Egyptian population, as Morsi had said that improving the transparency of governmental decision-making was a priority for him.

At the start of his term, it seemed that he was committed to changing how decisions were made during the previous term. In an effort to distinguish himself from Mubarak, he appointed a large presidential team.  He gathered individuals with a wide range of expertise and backgrounds in order to ensure diversity of opinion.

Sadly, this new era of openness seems to have ended. The president may listen attentively to all of his advisors, but it has become clear that real decisions are being made elsewhere. Analysts offer the explanation that perhaps Morsi picked too diverse of panel of advisors. Some suggest that he may be seeking a more streamlined viewpoint (that of the Muslim Brotherhood, specifically) in order to get decisions finalized faster. 

Others argue that Morsi just needs time to adjust to his new role. Admittedly, he is the first democratically elected president in Egypt’s history and has only been in office for five months. Our own presidents struggle to take over power in that time and they aren’t trying to rewrite a constitution at the same time. So, the question now is, as global advocates of democracy, can the U.S. do anything to help ensure this elected leader’s success?

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