Published On: Wed, Jul 10th, 2013

Unconstitutional Egypt Coup

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The Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi probably still have enough support such that it is unavoidable that they will be involved in the political life of a feasible democratic future for Egypt. The risk in unseating Morsi is that those supporters will not view any future political process as legitimate. I think that it will be very difficult to achieve a stable and democratic Egypt in the near future when a large segment of its voting population thinks that the government is not legitimate. I hope that I am wrong.

Some of Morsi’s sins undermined the legitimacy of his regime, and suggested that he no longer had the right to rule. Examples of these sorts of problems include passing a constitution without the widespread support of all segments of society, stacking the bureaucracy with cronies, and failing to end abuses by Egypt’s secret police. These are the reasons that protesters should give for unseating Morsi. If they can convince enough people that Morsi wasn’t a legitimate ruler, then they will have made their case that overthrowing him and establishing a new government is justified. However, some of the reasons that have been given for unseating Morsi include matters of policy, not legitimacy. For instance, a good deal of the protests are about the lousy state of the Egyptian economy, including the lack of tourism because of safety concerns. Even if Morsi was a bad economic manager, those sorts of questions are not the sort that can be answered by overthrowing the government.

Moving on, many have sought to justify the military coup on the ground that Egypt’s constitution provides no peaceful way to remove a president. That is not the case, lets refer to Article 152 of Egypt’s constitution – the President of the Republic is impeached for felony or high treason if at least a third of the members of the House of Representatives sponsor a motion of impeachment, and the House passes the motion with a two-thirds majority. As soon as the impeachment is in effect, the President of the Republic stops all work. This stoppage is treated as the result of a temporary hindrance that prevents the President of the Republic from assuming his responsibilities. It ends once the verdict is announced. The President of the Republic is to be tried before a special tribunal headed by the President of the High Council of Judges and staffed by the senior deputies of the President of the High Constitutional Court and the State Council, and the two most senior presidents of the appeals courts. The Public Prosecutor assumes the role of prosecutor. If the most senior person is unable to play his part, the person next in seniority takes his place. The law specifies the procedures of the trial as well as the sentence. If found guilty, the President of the Republic is relieved of his duties. This does not preclude additional penalties.

There was no justification for bloodshed. That said, Morsi supporters must share in the blame of the current chaos because of their support of a government that essentially marginalized democracy. Their vote for Morsi was meant only to select which degree of Islam the country would adhere to, not to select a true democracy; one with civil rights and a separation of church and state.

About the author: Laila Rehman is a Content Writer for Trango and a social scientist by degree

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