What would you do if you were playing on a football team and during a match you found that the referee was blatantly biased in favor of the rival team? What would you do if you saw the referee disallow genuine goals by your team do everything possible to ensure that the rival team won unfairly? Would you play on, in the knowledge that the referee would never allow you to win, or would you make a public protest against the referee and withdraw from the match?
This is the choice the Egyptian revolution faces today. The revolution trusted the Military Council to manage the transitional period, to carry out the objectives of the revolution and to prepare the country for real democracy. But the Military Council has preserved the Mubarak regime and given its full support to putting an end to the revolution. The Mubarak regime has carried out a careful plan to undo the revolution and restore Mubarak’s gangs to power: by discrediting the revolutionaries, accusing them of working for foreign forces and then carrying out horrific massacres aimed at young Egyptians, killing hundreds of them, blinding them with shotguns, sexually assaulting Egyptian women, and creating a security crisis and artificial shortages to make people turn against the revolution.
Their final move is to push Ahmed Shafik into the presidency in order to restore everything to the way it was before the revolution. The latest blow the Mubarak regime struck against the revolution occurred when Judge Ahmed Rifaat dismissed the case against Gamal and Alaa Mubarak and acquitted the aides to former Interior Minister Habib el-Adly, who were responsible for killing and wounding thousands of Egyptians.
Now that the plan has been carefully carried out, we face a choice in the second round of presidential elections between Ahmed Shafik, Mubarak’s loyal follower, and Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate. Faced with all this uncertainty, before you cast your vote, we must remember certain facts:
First, Article 28 of the temporary constitution gives the election commission immunity and deprives citizens of their right to mount a legal challenge to its decisions. This article is a relic of despotism, in the words of the administrative court, it is illogical and against the law, and incompatible even with the very constitutional declaration promulgated by the Military Council, which bans the immunity of administrative decisions. The pliant legislators who serve the interests of the Military Council say that Article 28 was approved by referendum and cannot be repealed. But the answer to this argument is that in last year’s referendum, Egyptians voted on nine amendments to the 1971 constitution and the Military Council then ignored the referendum result and issued a 63-article constitutional declaration that they imposed on Egyptians without consulting them. The council also extended the state of emergency without holding a referendum on it as specified in the constitutional declaration.
The Military Council is now preparing to issue a complementary constitutional declaration that it will impose on Egyptians. The Military Council has broken the law repeatedly so it can do what it wants. They want to retain Article 28 so that it can push Ahmed Shafik into the presidency.
Second, Judge Zakaria Abdel Aziz, the vice president of the Court of Cassation, has said that the election commission made a serious legal error when it allowed Ahmed Shafik to stand for the presidency. They should have applied the law, passed by parliament, which excludes Mubarak-era politicians. But for no sound reason they decided against applying the law and instead referred it to the constitutional court to rule on, while at the same time allowing Shafik to stand. We can see that the election commission is fraught with legal errors on all sides because, although it is composed of judges, it is an administrative committee that has absolutely no right to refer legislation to the constitutional court.
If we assume, for the sake of argument, that the supreme election commission is a judicial committee, then it has committed another serious legal error: It had an obligation to suspend the elections until the constitutional court had ruled on the law excluding former politicians. But it allowed Shafik’s candidacy to go ahead while his legal status is under threat from the constitutional court. This mistake leaves the presidency at the mercy of the fates. If Shafik wins the presidency and the constitutional court endorses the law on former politicians, Shafik will then have to be removed from office and new elections will have to be held. If Shafik loses in the second round and Mohamed Morsi wins, and then the law is upheld, then in that case Morsi will have to be removed from office and new elections will have to be held because the votes that Shafik won in the first round could have gone to his rivals. Zakaria Abdel Aziz therefore calls for the elections to be annulled completely because the result will be illegitimate and unconstitutional whatever happens.
Third, for the first time in Egyptian history one of the presidential candidates is the subject of corruption complaints. In Shafik’s case, thirty-five complaints that have not been investigated and that have been shuttling back and forth for a year and a half between the office of the public prosecutor and the military judiciary and that have been ignored in order to protect Shafik because the Military Council is intent on pushing him into the presidency. In democratic countries one accusation of corruption is enough to bring down the president, whereas in Egypt thirty-five accusations of corruption have been buried to satisfy the Military Council’s desire to install Ahmed Shafik as president of Egypt. The question is: What happens if Shafik wins the presidency and is then convicted of corruption and sentenced to imprisonment?
Would he perform his presidential functions while in custody or would he wait till his term ends and then go straight from the presidential palace to jail? This farce alone should be enough to delegitimize any elections in any country.
Fourth, the first round of presidential elections was marred by serious irregularities and some instances of blatant rigging. In this we shouldn’t rely too much on international observers because many of them are working for the interests of powerful countries. A few days before the elections, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter invited me to meet him with a group of intellectuals — Dr. Galal Amin, Ragia Omran and Dr. Khaled Fahmy. We talked with him about the work of the election-monitoring organization that he heads. At this meeting I was confirmed in my impression that Carter had come to Egypt, not to monitor the elections but to testify that they were fair. I remember I told him that some of the presidential candidates were buying the votes of poor people with money, cooking oil and sugar and that such instances of vote-buying had been documented in videos available on the Internet. Carter smiled at this and said: “I see that as a way to help the poor and it happens in many countries.”
After this remark I don’t consider Carter’s testimony on the Egyptian elections to be conclusive and I do not trust it. The presidential elections have been marred by numerous instances of fraud, all of which have been recorded and documented — dead people voted, military personnel voted for Shafik in violation of the law that bans them from voting, ballot boxes were left alone overnight with the candidates’ agents prevented from protecting them, and the ballot boxes holding the votes of Egyptian abroad were left in consulates for a whole week without any supervision.
I would like to cite here the testimony of Judge Walid Sharabi, a member of the Association of Judges for Egypt, who said that the numbers of voters had been tampered with in order to facilitate electoral fraud. Between the referendum in March 2011 and the presidential elections the number of Egyptian voters grew by 5,874,525 voters, all added to the registers in just fourteen months. This cannot be explained because the number of Egyptians who reached the voting age of eighteen this year was less than one million. This prompted Judge Walid Sharabi to urge Egyptians to boycott the presidential elections because they would be illegitimate and fraudulent. He says the elections should be annulled and held again after the members of the election commission have been replaced.
The biggest mistake Egyptians could make would be to consider the second round of elections to be a real contest between the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, Mohamed Morsi, and the military’s candidate, Ahmed Shafik. If the second round takes place before these defects are rectified, Shafik will inevitably become president. If the Muslim Brotherhood took their national responsibility seriously, they would call for the elections to be annulled and rerun after Shafik was disqualified and put on trial. Unfortunately the Brotherhood is repeating all its mistakes — as soon as the prospect of winning power looms, they lose sight of all other considerations, however important.
The second round is illegitimate and will be rigged, just as the first round was rigged, in order to ensure that Shafik takes the presidency. If Egyptians object to the fraud after Shafik takes office they will be violently suppressed. That’s what the Military Council has stated on its Facebook page where it says: “We will crack down hard on anyone who objects to the result of the second round, for trying to spoil a celebration of democracy.” Ahmed Shafik repeated the same threat when he met members of the American Chamber of Commerce, as reported by The New York Times on May 27. Shafik suggested that if he took office he would use executions and brutal force to restore order within a month. It may be the first time in history that a presidential candidate has threatened to execute some of the voters and asked them to vote for him at the same time.
Dear reader, if you do go to vote in the second round then you will be giving Shafik the presidency of Egypt. The second round cannot be valid until the law excluding former politicians is applied to Shafik, until he goes on trial for corruption, until instances of electoral fraud are investigated and until Article 28 is repealed.
Unless these legitimate demands are met I will not be taking part in the second round of the farce. On Election Day I will go and spoil my ballot paper. If many people spoil their ballot papers, it will send a powerful message that the elections are not valid. What legitimacy will the president have if he comes to office after all these serious irregularities? What legitimacy will the president have if the number of invalid votes is greater than the number of votes in his favor? The revolution will continue until we force the Military Council to hold the proper and fair elections that Egypt deserves after the revolution.