Thoughts on South African and international politics and culture

Friday, March 23, 2007

Egyptian Warning Lights
It's always strikes me how so often constitutional amendments or law introductions that infringe on individual rights so often come sugar-coated with euphemistic names; think of the Patriot Act, or the current "Democratic Referendum" in Egypt.

Egypt's President, Hosni Mubarrak, yesterday announced such a referendum, with a notice period of just five days, to push through various reforms that he claims will reinforce democratic principles in Egypt. Others are not so sure.

The amendments include:

A system whereby only recognised political parties will be allowed to put up candidates for election.
[This due to the fact that many banned parties in Egypt, including the Muslim Brotherhood, put up candidates as independents, with the consequence that banned party candidates still make up the largest proportion of the opposition in Egypt. In essence, this will mean the banning of all effective opposition in Egypt.]

New anti-terrorism laws that allow for the monitoring of any conversations and allow allow the president to bypass ÔÇťordinary courts for people suspected of terrorism", who would instead be tried in military courts.

These amendments may be well hidden under the ruse of strengthened democratic principles, but given Mubarrak - and Egypt's - past with such democratic principles, they are indeed ominous.