Life after spring

IN case you didn’t know, Egypt has a new president. Then again in Egypt this doesn’t seem like news since the country’s had two presidents in a short space of three years since they overthrew Hosni Mubarak in February 2011 in the Arab Spring.

What made the Arab Spring poignant is that after taking to the streets in youthful mass protest for 18 days, this culminated in the resignation of Mubarak who had ruled the country with an iron fist for 29 years. This sent a flutter of hope to other countries that were being stifled by the so-called dictatorial presidents.

It was reminiscent of the French revolution in which the populace stormed the Bastille and overthrew King Louis XVI who was violently executed in 1793.

That marked the end of monarchies in France and opened the dusty and long road to democracy. However, as the French learned, democracy was a long time coming and the transition period could be bloody as was the Reign of Terror which lasted almost a year.

It would appear that life after Mubarak has had glaring similarities for Egyptians who have experienced a reign of terror of sorts.

After what seemed like a sweeping victory after Mubarak was sent packing was that the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood ascended to power.

Prior to this, the Egypt in transition was governed by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) who essentially issued a decree that limited presidential powers. Clearly they were determined not to have a repeat of what had transpired in the previous 29 years.

In June 2012, their candidate Mohammed Morsi was elected president and so it appeared to the world that Egypt was now on course for reconstruction and recovery. However, Morsi had other ideas of his own.

He essentially abolished the SCAF decree limiting presidential powers and dissolved the House of Representatives. He adopted a power stance that seemed to most Egyptians as regressive as opposed to being progressive. If anything he was like a lover who promise to deliver, but goes on to leave a string of broken hearts in his wake.

By the end of November 2012 public discontent against Morsi had sufficiently built up. By June 2013 Morsi was deposed by public protest. Order was restored yet again with another interim government as the country awaited fresh new presidential elections.

These were finally concluded over three days between May 26 and 28. The choice for most Egyptians was simple as only two candidates Abdel Fattah el-Sissi and Hamdeen Sabahi took to the polls. The former Defence minister, el-Sissi emerged victorious.

So now we watch and wait with abated breath to see if he would finish his tenure in power or he too might be overthrown by mass discontent. Even though Egypt masquerades as a democracy, it would appear popular protest is now the order of the day.

However, it also raises questions as to whether in a democracy this is an appropriate course of action. Surely if someone is elevated to power through the ballot box it only makes sense that they be removed in the same fashion. Are violent protests not setting a bad precedent for the future or is it merely fine tuning a not so perfect democracy?

One wonders if Egypt has actually made strides beyond the very police State it sough to remove.

This is the question that often lingers on many lips in those countries that are supposedly being held together by dictators. What will life be in the aftermath? Better or worse? It would be interesting to conduct a study to see how Libya has fared post-Gaddafi.

Are the citizens better off or worse off, or is it too early to tell?

Maybe Malawi might be a better candidate for analysis post-President Kamuzu Banda’s tenure. It’s tempting to draw parallels to this using the analogy of a woman who remains in an abusive 20-year marriage. She finally gets the courage to divorce her husband, or in the Egyptian case maybe she has him murdered.

Since she is an attractive woman in no time she attracts the attention of a handsome man who courts her with romantic affection. They marry and soon enough the pattern of abuse rears its ugly head.

His abusiveness is ten times worse than in the previous relationship. So she asks herself the glaring question: Is the devil you know not better than the one you don’t? Then again the story of the divorced woman could end differently. She might actually find everlasting love and live happily ever after.

Then again, history appears to have an uncanny way of repeating itself. Politics is seasonal and a spring of hope can be short-lived and elusive.

 Sue Nyathi is the author of the novel The Polygamist. You can follow her on Twitter @SueNyathi

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