Quick Egyptian transitionEgypt is bracing for a third week of protests calling for an end to President Hosni Mubarak’s three-decade authoritarian rule. But the country is slowly restoring order and returning to business as usual after violent military clashes resulted in dozens - and perhaps hundreds - of deaths.
Yielding to pressure from his people as well as from the United States and other countries that play prominent roles in the international community, Mubarak promised not to run for president again during the next election in September.
He also dismissed some of the most powerful leaders of the ruling party, including his son, Gamal Mubarak, and party secretary general Safwat el-Sharif.
The tidal wave of protests has now started to ebb, with some calling for patience to see if the president keeps his promises to leave the political sphere.
The international community has mixed feelings while watching the spread of the democratic movement to Egypt from Tunisia, where public protests led to the ouster of the country’s corrupt and authoritarian president, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.
The movement could introduce democracy in Egypt, a strategically important country in the Middle East. But at the same time, prolonged unrest could lead to even more turmoil in the region and deepen the economic hardship of the people, which would reinforce the power of extreme Islamic forces.
In the worst-case scenario, the fragile axis of peace in the Middle East could collapse, leading to a massive shift in international politics and economics. Thankfully, the chances of such a development appear slim at this point.
The Egyptian people have suffered under decades of authoritarian rule and a corrupt regime that seeks to keep wealth and power within the family. As such, they should be rewarded with democracy as early as possible.
President Mubarak now has no other choice but to first answer to the public and then step down to pave the way for a free and fair vote under a new constitution and revised election laws.
Egyptians should also continue their vigilance to prevent any new authoritarian or extreme forces from taking power so that their painful struggle and losses for the sake of democracy won’t be in vain. The world supports Egypt’s quick and stable transition to a democratic society.