available languages: english July 17, 2013

Groundhog Day in Cairo

By Michael Meyer-Resende

It feels like Groundhog Day in Cairo. Again, as in early 2011, masses of people demonstrated against the president; again, the military stepped in and seized power; and once again, a transitional roadmap was published, laying out how Egypt should return to civilian politics under a reformed constitution legitimized by a series of electoral events within a year.

It did not go well the first time however, and is unlikely to do so now. The imposition of a cookie-cutter transition with a rapid succession of elections will do nothing to build consensus on the ground rules of politics, which is the only way to achieve deep democratization and the stabilization of the country.

The military and the interim government may have been well intentioned when they issued the roadmap. Indeed many Egyptians and international actors demanded clarification about the way ahead with reassurances that the soldiers have no intention to govern in the long run. Yet the roadmap was immediately met with a chorus of criticism, even from potentially sympathetic circles of the Tamarod protest movement and the liberal National Salvation Front. What went wrong? The army has not learned one of the lessons of 2011; say, the need to consult widely before making decisions, even if “only” about the process.

This article was written for Madamasr.  A complete version can be found here.