Egypt faces new revolution after political shake-up

Friday, June 15, 2012 |  Ryan Jones

Just over a year after ousting a decades-long dictatorship, Egyptians may be facing a new revolution as they prepare to go to the polls in the nation's run-off presidential election.

On Saturday, Egyptians will begin voting for either Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Mursi or secular candidate Ahmed Shafiq as their next president. Mursi and Shafiq came in first and second, respectively, in the first round of voting last month, but neither man was able to win an outright majority, thus necessitating a run-off.

But just two days before the fateful vote, Egypt's highest court made the dramatic decision to dissolve the nation's new parliament, which was voted in in December and January.

The Muslim Brotherhood secured a parliamentary majority in those elections, but the court ruled that the movement had won most of its seats illegally.

At the same time, the court decided against a petition declaring Shafiq's candidacy for president illegal based on his affiliation with former dictator Hosni Mubarak. Shafiq was a minister in Mubarak's government from 2002-2011, and served as prime minister during the final days of the Mubarak regime.

The court decision prompted angry demonstrations, which brought the army out in force.

Mursi declared that he would not allow the army and elements of the former regime to thwart the Egyptian revolution, which had taken on a decidedly Islamic flavor.

Many Egyptians saw the weekend maneuvering as a last-ditch effort by former Mubarak loyalists, including the military leadership, to keep the Muslim Brotherhood from taking over the country. The problem is that the Brotherhood won control of the parliament and is poised to win the presidency with the backing of a public majority. Attempts to reverse that will be seen as a return to Mubarak-style dictatorship, and are likely to spark a fresh revolution.

On the other hand, a full Muslim Brotherhood takeover would put Egypt on a path toward Iran-style radical Islam, which Shafiq has been vigorously warning against.

Either way, Egypt's revolution appears to be far from completed, and in many ways may be just beginning.

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