Sunday, February 06, 2011

There is no agreement between Mubarak's people and the democratic opposition - and there are no divisions among the protesters

Mubarak’s dictatorship are trying to give the impression that they have negotiated an agreement between Mubarak’s Vice President Omar Suleiman and the democracy protesters and opposition parties. They haven’t. The only agreement is among Mubarak’s NDP party to try to give the impression they’re making progress towards democracy.

Ayman Nour of the El Ghad party has said there has been no agreement between Suleiman’s people and the protesters, as has Mohamed ElBaradei (contradicting the impression given by the Egyptian dictatorship that ElBaradei’s representative was a party to the ‘agreement’). El Baradei said “Nobody knows who is talking to whom at this stage. It's managed by Vice-President Suleiman. It is all managed by the military and that is part of the problem”

Abdel Monem Aboul Fotouh of the Muslim Brotherhood, said the government statement “does not include any solid changes.”

The Egyptian opposition continue to demand that Mubarak step down before negotiations begin on the formation of a National Unity government to organise the re-drafting of the constitution and hold free and fair elections – and for the Unity government to be in power for at least a year before elections to allow them to ensure they’re not rigged by Mubarak’s NDP like they have been in the past.

Since Mubarak has rigged every election he’s overseen in the last 30 years – and jailed even the candidates of parties he hadn’t banned (such as Nour), this is not an unreasonable demand.

The “Council of Wise Men” who are meant to be acting as intermediaries between Mubarak and the opposition are Mubarak’s people -  academics from the Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, the President of which , Abdel Monem Ali Sayed,  is a member of Mubarak’s ‘National Democratic Party’. (credit here to ‘The Angry Arab News Service’ for spotting this)

There is no mention of torture or jail without trial for the opposition in any of the Al Ahram center’s online commentaries – and none of election rigging either (though to be fair, if there was, they’d have been sacked and probably in prison themselves by now).

The only noteworthy concessions offered by Suleiman in the statement released on the “agreement” have been an end to the state of emergency which has existed since the assassination of Sadat in 1973; the freeing of all political prisoners and a guarantee that they will be allowed to be politically active without limitations. Whether these will be implemented or not is another question.

There are statements about the establishment of various committees to amend the constitution (not to write a new one)– but how the membership of them is to be decided and by who is left vague.

There are also various ominous statements such as “Pursuit of corruption, and an investigation into those behind the breakdown of security in line with the law”, “Restoring the security and stability of the nation, and tasking the police forces to resume their role in serving and protecting the people.” And “All participants expressed their absolute rejection of any and all forms of foreign intervention in internal Egyptian affairs.”

These are ominous because the police have been the main instigators of violence and because they echo Mubarak propaganda about ElBaradei being an American, the protests being organised by “foreigners”including Israelis and attacks by Mubarak supporters on foreign journalists and Egyptian protesters for being “foreign agents”.

The intention of the statement is probably to allow foreign governments (especially the US government) to present it to their publics as evidence of progress towards democracy – and to try to give the impression that the opposition is too divided for negotiations to succeed (when the actual problem is that the opposition are united in demanding Mubarak step down and allow a national unity government, while Mubarak and his henchmen like Suleiman refuse).


Main sources

The Washington Post 5 Feb 2011 ‘For cautious Mubarak, change became overwhelming’, ; see page 2,

Reuters 05 Feb 2011 ‘Opposition divided ahead of talks with Egypt's VP’,

Bloomberg 06 Feb 2011 ‘Suleiman, Egypt Opposition Agree to Form Panel for Constitutional Changes’,

Guardian News Blog – Egypt Protests 06 Feb 2011 3.46p.m, , statement from Suleiman's office

Guardian News Blog – Egypt Protests 06 Feb 2011, 5.03 p.m summary, 06 Feb 2011 ‘Egyptian opposition cautious after vice-president Suleiman opens talks’, 05 Feb 2011 ‘Egypt: Why 25 January will be a date enshrined in the country's history’, by Ayman Nour and Wael Nawara,

Bloomberg 06 Feb 2011 ‘Egypt’s Treaty With Israel Is ‘Rock Solid,’ ElBaradei Says , ; ‘ElBaradei urged “a year of transition or a government of national unity, of caretaker government that prepares properly for free and fair election,” speaking on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS” program. “I think any election in the next coming of months before the right people establish parties and engage, it will be again a fake -- a fake democracy.”’

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