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Overthrowing Mursi won’t benefit the opposition

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

Published: Updated:

I purposely wrote my conclusion in the title so that those impatient readers and those who prematurely judge my opinion could spare their efforts. In Egypt, President Mohammad Mursi is now in big trouble, his supporters recognize this. His popularity is fading and Egyptians are losing hope in the revolution and the government. The fall of the Brotherhood is now one of the possible scenarios in Egypt, either by a second revolution or a military intervention.

But despite his bad administration, the toppling of Mursi – who still has three more years of his term left – will be a loss to the democratic government in Egypt and will generate a new period of chaos.

The “rebellion’s” motives are correct but their objective is flawed. The downfall of Mursi today will be terrible for the future of Egypt tomorrow. This is especially true at a time when the country needs to go through a trial period and needs further experimentations so that Egyptians can get the government they want.

At any attempt to shake the situation, Mursi’s throne could be brought down. Thus the opposition should change the behavior of the presidency by pressure

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

Until today, Mursi has not refrained from the abuse of power in the pursuit of his opponents, whether they are in the media or the opposition, as was the case with former President Husni Mubarak. Actually, the pursuit of opponents has occured to a greater level under Mursi. Democracy is not just a system based on having a ballot or exercising majority voting but rather, it has binding entitlements; the judiciary should be independent of the presidency, an independent parliament should exist as well as a free media.

Mursi “tormented” the judiciary, decided to write a new judicial system and formed a judicial council for which he chose and appointed a public attorney. Apart from his explicit violation, he also wants to abolish the liberal democratic regime that brought him and the Muslim Brotherhood to power. This, after the Brotherhood failed to take power in the last 80 years. Today the Brothers want to turn this regime into an “Iranian-style democracy” where it is the Ayatollah who decides who is the most suitable for presidency and then holds a referendum for those that he supports.

Commanding democracy

The judiciary is the cornerstone. When Mursi picks the judicial authority, he can also command the elections. It is the judiciary that supervises voting and counting, rules on appeals and electoral violations and validates the results. In brief, if Mursi can choose the judiciary, he can guarantee winning the elections. This is why the opposition is determined to bring him down by force. When he sacked the public attorney and appointed one of his own, he simultaneously garnered the key to his own fall and the key to Egypt’s security apparatuses. Appointing a supporter to the office of public attorney means Mursi can file lawsuits against political opponents and stop suits from being filed against him. The public attorney can also go after the opposition and this is what Mursi is doing now, accusing his opponents of tax evasion, insulting the president and even fabricating criminal cases, thus disallowing the opposition from entering the elections and eliminating them as a rival force.

Does this also mean Mursi is obliged to remain silent when the judiciary accuses him of following in the legacy of the ousted Mubarak? Absolutely not. It is the right of the president to reform the judicial system and change whoever he wants, including the public attorney, but he is only allowed to do so in two respects: Either to leave judiciary reform to the judiciary, or propose a judiciary reform project and give equal rights to all political parties along with the Muslim Brotherhood. This is what the Turkish Prime Minster Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is currently doing. When he decided to reform the Constitution he broughttogether all competing powers and gave his party the same number of seats as the other main political parties.

At any attempt to shake the situation, Mursi’s throne could be brought down. Thus the opposition should change the behavior of the presidency by pressure, not by overthrowing him. The Egyptian Constitution doesn’t legitimize ousting Mursi, nor withdrawing confidence from the government, nor conducting an early poll on elections.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on June 29, 2013.

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Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.