Monday,23 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1154, (27 June - 3 July 2013)
Monday,23 October, 2017
Issue 1154, (27 June - 3 July 2013)

Ahram Weekly

To the streets, anyway

Close to the eve of expected nationwide demonstrations, Morsi failed to reassure an angry nation, reports Dina Ezzat

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Al-Ahram Weekly

 Dismay is seeping through among political forces after a 150-minute speech on Wednesdayevening by President Mohamed Morsi to the nation ahead of what promises to be the largest ever nationwide demonstration since the 25 January Revolution which forced Hosni Mubarak to step down in 18 days, on 11 February 2011.
"He (Morsi) said nothing," said Hoda, an activist who was on Thursday morning going through the logistics of joining the 30 June demonstrations from east Heliopolis toward the Presidential Palace (Morsi has already been removed from to Al-Kubba Palace out of Heliopolis for security reasons).
"He spoke for over two hours and said nothing that one could actually understand," Hoda said. "He does not seem willing to make any of the changes that he should have done months ago and now he has left us with no other alternative but to take to the streets on Sunday [30 June] and to stay there until he succumbs to the people's demands for early presidential elections,"
Huge crowds, according to opposition leaders and activists, are planning massive demonstrations on 30 June, the first anniversary of the inauguration of Morsi, to express contempt at the state management throughout the last year and to call for early presidential elections.
Morsi addressed his speech from the Cairo Conference Centre to a limited group of supporters in the presence of top state officials, including Minister of Defence Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi who is widely perceived the man who could checkmate Morsi with support of what is promised to be millions of anti-Morsi demonstrators.
Al-Sisi, whose presence was interpreted by sceptics as evidence of an end of the all but announced disagreement between presidency and army over the handling of growing public frustration, offered little reaction to the over two-hour epilogue of a president who seemed willing to make some acknowledgment of error-doing but who otherwise blamed the vast majority of the problems faced by the nation today to the ousted regime and its "remnants".
For others, however, Al-Sisi who had on Sunday made an implicit show of sympathy with the call for demonstrations,  seemed to make a point of excusing himself briefly - allegedly for a bathroom break during the extended speech in a yet another implicit message about where he stands vis-a vis-a president  whose popularity is for sure wearing rather thin.
The conspicuous absence of both the Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar and the Patriarch of the Coptic Church of Egypt, who had both showed their implicit support for the demonstrations was yet another message when Morsi took the podium to speak of his efforts through the last year to pursue development and democracy despite vehement attempts by opponents to "fail his effort right from the start".
Morsi's Wednesday speech was not just much longer than other previous statements of the head of the executive but was unequivocally different in style. The president who has the unconditional support of the much maligned still influential Muslim Brotherhood opted to appeal rather than to apprehend. His threats against opponents - some of whom he had named , including his adversary in the second round of the presidential elections Ahmed Shafik who is currently appealing against the announced results - were not as rough and aggressive as they used to be.
The threats that Morsi made in the face of political opponents and which were reminiscent of the ousted regime of Mubarak were all quoted with the phrase "all measures taken against anyone would all be done in line with the constitution and the laws concerned".
The president made imprisonment threats to some of the people he accused of being involved in anti-regime conspiracies, including some media giants whose satellite channels, he suggested, were promoting "hatred and rumours". One of them is already denied the right to work out of Egypt.
Morsi also spoke of orders to governors and ministers to remove "all those subscribing" to the "ousted regime network of interests". He used the term "the deep state" - and to induce some "under 40 cadres" instead, prompting renewed speculation about an alleged empowerment scheme of the Muslim Brotherhood that aims to remove the members of the state bureaucracy in favour of its members to tighten control over state bodies.
According to Amr, an assistant at a downtown home appliances store, what Morsi was supposed to offer in the speech, which was not still finished as Amr spoke to Al-Ahram Weekly, is one of two things: either a recognition of failure and therefore a bow to succumb to the will of the people for early presidential elections, or a detailed scheme for reform that he should provide for the approval or rejection of the nation in a referendum. "Anything else is a waste of time - his time and ours. The economy is going lower and lower and people are losing jobs and things are becoming more expensive. This situation is unsustainable".
Speaking after the speech, Mohamed Osman, a member of the Islamist Strong Egypt Party which has leftist shades, said that the statement of the head of the executive did not live up to the challenges that is facing the nation which go beyond the fate of the Morsi presidency to the more consequential issues of civil cohesion and economic safety. "A much more serious offer was in order," Osman said.

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