An important reminder was offered today in light of the rapid changes taking place in Egypt. While the protesters celebrate their success at ousting Mubarak, the Associated Press (AP) suggest caution now that Egyptian military have dissolved the Parliament and suspended the constitution.
According to the AP article, the director of the non-governmental organization Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights Hossam Bahgat states that the country has entered uncharted legal ground. Bahgat stated that, “’In the absence of a constitution, we have entered a sort of ‘twilight zone’ in terms of rules, so we are concerned,” he said. “We are clearly monitoring the situation and will attempt to influence the transitional phase so as to respect human rights.’”
With the Parliament gone and no constitution in place, as asked for by the demonstrators, the military potentially has more power then when Mubarak was in office. Under Mubarak, the country was under a perpetual state of emergency which helped him monopolize his power. Now that there is no constitution, Egypt is under martial law which means that the military can create any law and enforce them in military tribunals.
While the military has so far responded to the desires of the people and the situation seems optimistic, there is cause for concern. The demonstrators have also asked that the emergency laws that have been in place for the past 30 years be repealed. On this particular issue, the military is utterly silent and has failed to take any action.
The military’s failure to address this issue is confirmed by Al Jazeera. James Bays, a correspondent for the paper, says that, “‘one thing that wasn’t in that communique that protesters have asked for, was the repeal of emergency laws.’” In addition he says that the military council has, “’taken on the role of the presidency and the prime minister and the other ministers carry out their orders.’”
Some protestors appear to share Bahgat’s concerns because they promised to remain in Tahrir Square until all of their requests have been met. Safwat Hegazi, who helped to organize the demonstrations, asserts that, “’If the army does not fulfil our demands, our uprising and its measures will return stronger.’”
Hegazi’s statement is a testament to the Egyptian people’s dedication and commitment to a more open government. With this in mind, there remains the strong potential that more mass demonstrations are in Egypt’s future.