Power to the People – Yay Egypt!!!
The people of Egypt have taken a different approach to attaining justice and achieving democracy. Again, this is another situation in which the president assumes ownership over presidency with a resolve never to leave. On Tuesday February 1, innumerable numbers of Egyptian citizens took to the streets with an aim of driving President Hosni Mubarak, the 30-year reigning president of Egypt out by Friday. Prior to these political protests, the nation was plagued by corruption and mass violation of human rights by the government.
Such autocracy always instigates unrest, because at some point people take it upon themselves to enforce the law and protect their rights. It should not come as a surprise to president Mubarak and his government that the people have decided to take the law into their own hands. It’s been a long time coming after thirty years of autocratic rule. At the start of this week, more than 250,000 protesters flooded Tahrir Square in Cairo and vowed to lodge on the streets until president Mubarak was removed from power.
Protests that started out weeks ago as a peaceful resolution to oust president Mubarak have taken on a violent nature resulting in the death of at least 85 people. Reports from Cairo on Tuesday stated that the president had reinforced security in the nation’s capital in an effort to contain violence.
The demonstrations are a classic stand for human rights, and its imperative that Egyptian authorities and police force protect the protesters as well as journalists, because using violence to contain this display of democracy would be an infringement of the right to free speech and human rights. In a recent public address, the 82- year old president somberly pointed out that he will continue to serve until the end of his term and does not have any intentions of running again. The people however unanimously chanted a “leave now” response to his speech and at least 200,000 still maintain a stakeout in the nation’s capital until President Mubarak steps down.
It is commendable to see the people take a united stand for democracy and justice, albeit unreasonable to force Mubarak out of power without holding proper elections first. It is necessary for a peaceful transition of power be made, in order to maintain peace and stability in the nation. The president can’t step down in the middle of his political term without a definitive plan in place. Whatever solution the government arrives at however has to be decided upon by the people. Democracy is after all the government of the people, by the people, and what better way to achieve this than let the people decide the way forward?
Even though its clear that Mubarak won’t be running for presidency in the upcoming elections, opposition parties find this claim anticlimactic, sighting his various health problems which would have otherwise impended his re-election. President Mubarak has nonetheless promised to carry out amendment of laws regarding presidential terms, and elections. Despite various claims that he might flee the country, Mubarak stated, “this is my dear homeland… I have lived in it; I fought for it and defended its soil, sovereignty and interests. On its soil I will die. History will judge me and all of us.”
The United Nations (UN), a body formed to primarily maintain peace, promote justice and protect human rights, remains neutral in this battle of rights. UN forces have since withdrawn from Egypt claiming that the Egyptians should clean up their own mess. It is ironic that the most powerful peace keeping body in the world, formed to protect and defend human rights often finds itself at the sidelines of human rights violations.
Often times, we are presented with a chance to revert situations before they blow out of proportion. Such was the case in Ivory Coast, but the UN instead decided to take a step back and let events play out the way they did. Is it idealistic to expect the UN to always try and resolve every injustice around the world, or at least make a feeble attempt?
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