Eleven people have died and 28 have been injured in violent clashes in Egypt on the first day of voting on a new constitution. The vote is likely to spawn a presidential bid by General Abdel Fattah Sisi, expert on Islamic movements, Azzam Tamimi, told RT.
The third referendum of its kind in three years is illegitimate from a legal point of view, says the expert, as the draft constitution strengthens institutions that defied democratically elected Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, ousted by the military last July.
Egyptians are already seeing the freedoms achieved after 2011 revolution being taken away from them, believes Tamimi.
RT: Egyptians are being asked to vote for their third constitution in as many years. Is this latest one going to be the panacea to all the ills in Egypt?
Azzam Tamimi: This constitution represents the interests of those who are disaffected by the 25 January 2011 revolution in Egypt. It’s mainly the military and the corrupt business community associated with the military, and some of those who lost in every single election that was conducted fairly since the ousting of President Mubarak of the defunct regime. And therefore this constitution is just one in a series of measures that are considered – from a purely legal point of view – to be illegal and illegitimate.
RT: The Muslim Brotherhood – a terrorist organization, of course, it’s been branded as we know – has boycotted this latest vote. Is that a smart move on their behalf? Are they alienating themselves further?
AT: Of course, if you believe that this constitution, as I have just said, is one measure in a series of measures that are the product of an illegitimate coup, a seizure of power, then you wouldn’t participate in it. Many of the people – probably all the people – that go to the polling stations today will have to vote ‘yes’, because those who were intending to vote ‘no’, had already been intimidated. Police force, intelligence services, the army – all this has been deployed in order to make sure that as many people as possible will come to say ‘yes’ to this constitution, rather than say ‘no’.
RT: But if not this, then what, in its place?
AT: Well, a return to legitimacy. Egypt had an accident revolution, and then it had a transition to democratization. What we see today is a destruction of the democratic process in Egypt, and only a return to genuine democracy will stabilize the country and will guarantee future prosperity.
RT: But how is that going to happen?
AT: Those who committed the crimes against humanity in Egypt will have to be called to account; the perpetrators of the coup are criminals in the eyes of the law; and the Egyptian people must restore their will and their free choice.
RT: And I suppose you see this as paving the way then for General Sisi to come to power here – this constitution – no other way for it.
AT: Indeed, indeed, every single legal expert who I have heard analyze the constitution, talk about the fact that this constitution is a launching pad for Sisi to become the next president of Egypt. This as a repeat of what happened in Chile in 1973, when the CIA and Pinochet conspired together in order to remove the first democratically elected president of Chile.
RT: One of the very controversial points about this constitution is that it lets military tribunals try civilians – that’s hardly got a place in what you’d call a normal democratic setup. How worried are the people of Egypt about that particular clause?
AT: They are already very worried – this was one of main achievements of January 25 revolution, and now this is being taken away, like so many other things. There are already tens of thousands of people behind bars, many of them have not even been tried properly. And most of them are simply behind bars because they oppose the coup against democracy.