Hosni Speaks Again

Amman, Jordan

I’m watching Hosni Mubarak’s speech on Egyptian national television, which protesters have been waiting with great anticipation.

He’s promising to bring to justice those who caused the violence and deaths of the last 3 weeks. He praises the youth for calling for justice, but refuses to be dictated to by outside forces.

[As he says this, protesters are giving him thumbs-down from Tahrir Square.]

He refuses to take orders from outside, and repeats his commitment to not run in the upcoming elections, and his commitment to continue in his office until the September elections. He says that he has initiated the requested dialogue with the opposition, and that he is leading the nation out of crisis over the coming months.

[The crowd on Tahrir is erupting in shouting and thumbs-down.]

Yesterday, he says, the committee examining the constitution gave its first recommendations. In response, he is proposing to amend Articles 76, 77, 88, 93 and 189 of the Constitution, and to anull Article 179. At a later stage, he promises to amend further articles as recommended by the committee. This will, he says, ensure fair and transparent elections, under the authority of the judiciary. In time, he says, he will lift the Emergency Laws. For now, it is more important to restore confidence in Egypt’s people that progress is being made. He is threatening that the economic crisis related to the protests will effect the youth first.

[Now people are holding up their shoes in the crowd on Tahrir, soles facing the televised image of Mubarak, a grave insult in Arab culture.]

He declares that these demonstrations are not about Hosni Mubarak personally. He repeats that he has done everything for Egypt, gone to war for her, lived through her occupation, and liberated Sinai.

[The crowd is roaring and shaking their shoes in the air.]

He insists he has only ever worked for the betterment of Egypt, and denies that he has never sought power or popularity, and that all people know this. He says that he has realized the necessity of turning over some of his power to VP Omar Suleiman. Egypt, he says, will prove that it is an independent state that does not bow to foreign pressure. At great length, he speaks about the eternal uniqueness and strength of the Egyptian nation. He repeats his determination to die in Egypt [one way or another, Hosni!], and says goodbye.

Now the crowds are shouting, “He must leave!” It was a patronizing speech, by a president who seems delusional in his apparently sincere belief that he is a hero of Egyptian history. I can’t even express the disbelief I’m feeling right now. My heart is pounding. If I were Egyptian, I would…. I can’t even imagine what. The hubris of this man is unbelievable!

Now I’m listening to Omar Suleiman’s response.

He’s saying that Pres. Mubarak has put the needs of Egypt above all else. He says they have opened the door to dialogue, and commits himself to anything necessary for a peaceful transfer of power, including national dialogue. He calls on all Egyptians to look together to the future, a free and democratic future for a nation of heroes. He asks the youth of Egypt to go home, to go back to work, and to return to the development of the country. He accuses the satellite television stations of fomenting discord. He praises the armed forces that defended both the revolution and the nation. He invokes the blessings of God in conclusion.

On al-Jazeera, John Bradley is calling this “political suicide” and a “double insult to the Egyptian people,” a catalyst for the people to stage a real revolution. I have my problems with some of the analysis in Bradley’s book Inside Egypt, but I have to agree with his analysis today. Now not only do Egyptians have incredible hatred for Mubarak, but they’ve got reason to see that the army is not the savior that they’ve thought it would be. Furious crowds are already marching towards the Television Building in Cairo, and the military base in Alexandria. I’m afraid that things are going to get really nasty now, and I’m worried about tonight and tomorrow.

This afternoon, as recently as 2 hours ago, I was sorry to be here in Jordan, and sorry that I had changed my plane ticket from tomorrow till Wednesday, wishing I could be in Cairo tomorrow to celebrate the fall of Mubarak. Now I think I’m glad I’ll be here. In fact, I’m pretty doubtful now that CASA will resume at all this spring. But of course, my future in Egypt is not nearly as important as the future of Egypt’s citizens there. I wish them the best, but am braced for the worst. Viva la revolution!

The pertinent bits of the Constitution:
Article 76:

The People’s Assembly shall nominate the President of the Republic. The nomination shall be referred to the people for a plebiscite. The nomination for the President of the Republic shall be made in the People’ Assembly upon the proposal of at least one third of its members. The candidate who obtains two thirds of the votes of the members of the People’s Assembly shall be referred to the people for a plebiscite . If he does not obtain the said majority the nomination process shall be repeated two days after the first vote. The candidate obtaining an absolute majority of the votes of the Assembly members shall be referred to the citizens for a plebiscite. The candidate shall be considered President of the Republic when he obtains an absolute majority of votes cast in the plebiscite. If the candidate does not obtain this majority, the Assembly shall propose the nomination of another candidate and the same procedure shall follow concerning his candidature and election.

Article 77:
The term of the presidency shall be six Gregorian years starting from the date of the announcement of result of the plebiscite. The President of the Republic may be re-elected for other successive terms.
(**) Amended according to the unanimity of the people’s approval to the constitutional amendment in the plebiscite conducted May, 22nd 1980.

Article 88:
The Law shall determine the conditions which members of the Assembly must fulfil as well as the rules of election and referendum, while the ballot shall be conducted under the supervision of the members of a judiciary organ.

Article 93:
The People’s Assembly shall be competent to decide upon the validity of the membership of its members. The Court of Cassation shall be competent to investigate the validity of contestations on membership presented to the Assembly after referring them to the Court by the Speaker of the Assembly. The contestation shall be referred to the Court of Cassation within fifteen days as from the date on which the Assembly has been informed thereof while the investigation shall be completed within ninety days from the date on which the contestation is referred to the Court of Cassation. The result of the investigation and the decision reached by the Court shall be submitted to the Assembly to decide upon the validity of the contestation within sixty days from the date of submission of the result of the investigation to the Assembly. Memberships shall not be deemed invalid expect by a decision taken by a majority of two-thirds of the Assembly members.

Article 189:
The President of the Republic as well as the People’s Assembly may request the amendment of one or more of the articles of the Constitution. The articles to be amended and the reasons justifying such amendments shall be mentioned in the request for amendment . If the request emanates from the People’s Assembly, it should be signed by at least one third of the Assembly members . In all cases, the Assembly shall discuss the amendment in principle, and the decision in this respect shall be taken by the majority of its members. If the request is rejected, the amendment of the same particular articles may not be requested again before the expiration of one year from the date of such rejection. If the People’s Assembly approves an amendment, in principle, the articles requested to be amended shall be discussed two months after the date of the said approval. If the amendment is approved by two thirds of the members of the Assembly, it shall be referred to the people for a plebiscite. If it is approved by the people it shall be considered in force from the date of the announcement of the result of the plebiscite.

Article 179:
The Socialist Public Prosecutor shall be responsible for taking the measures which secure the people’s rights, the safety of the society and its political regime, the preservation of the socialist achievements and commitment to socialist behaviour. The law shall prescribe his other competences. He shall be subject to the control of the People’s Assembly in accordance with what is prescribed by law.

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