Road to Parliament, preparing for demonstrations (1/2012) (File photos by Gigi Ibrahim)
Egypt (MNN) ― Back to the drawing board. This isn't the first time you've heard this phrase associated with politics this week.
This time, Egypt appears to be starting over in the quest to reshape itself. Yesterday, the highest court declared the Islamist-dominated parliament invalid, because the laws governing those elections were unconstitutional. That decision means the four-month old parliament has to dissolve.
From there, the country's interim military rulers declared full legislative authority and will name a new 100-person assembly today to write the new constitution (under which laws governing parliamentary elections would be written).
President and CEO of Open Doors USA Carl Moeller says, "This comes at a time when of course there's about to be a runoff for president. One of the candidates is going to be the interim government leader. This is an extremely volatile development." The big question is: will all this disorder negate the June 17 presidential run-off elections? They're still going ahead as planned.
Moeller explains, "With the military stepping in and creating sort of a martial law state in the civil context, this could be an incredibly difficult and chaotic period in the transition."
With a parliament dominated 70% by Muslim Brotherhood and Salifists, it could be the opportunity to hit the "reset" button. "Coming out of the most-recent first round of presidential elections, there was increased dissatisfaction with the process because those who wanted true democracy and religious freedom and a variety of other things in Egypt, unfortunately, were left out in the cold."
Specifically, Moeller says, "This now is a strong signal that the government of the old regime holds a lot of the power levers in that country."
Meanwhile, in a separate ruling, the court also rejected a law that barred former regime members from running in the election, which meant that Former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq would be allowed to run. That means he'll go head-to-head against the Muslim Brotherhood's candidate, Mohammed Morsi.
Both decisions prompted angry response from Egyptians. Moeller summarizes the confusion this way: "Parliament is invalid, the presidency is not filled and is only going to be filled temporarily by Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq, and there is no operating new constitution. This is a very unstable situation where you don't have any duly elected authority within the country. The only power you have within the country is the military."
The good news: the twin blows could sweep away the Muslim Brotherhood's political gains since Mubarak's ouster 16 months ago. New elections will have to be held to form a new parliament.
The bad news: chaos is never good. Moeller notes, "I like to use the analogy of 'musical chairs' in the political dimensions of Egypt. Right now, the music is still playing because we don't know who's going to be sitting in the chairs of the presidency or control. Christians are still largely the odd group out."
In an effort to stabilize the country from the reaction, Egypt's military-led government imposed a de facto martial law, extending the arrest powers of security forces. The mandate remains in effect until a new constitution is introduced. "One thing that the church leaders in Egypt are asking us to pray for is for peace and stability through the remainder of the presidential election process."
Preventing a power vacuum is imperative. Egypt was known as a place where persecution was intense before the Revolution. However, the government that oppressed the Church also suppressed radical Islam. Moeller asks, "If the presidency is currently up for grabs between Muslim brotherhood leadership and old regime leadership, where do the Christians fall into that outcome? It's unlikely that their conditions will improve. It's very likely that the chaos will produce even more hardship on the Church."
Prayer is needed. Gospel opportunities flourished in the days following the Revolution and at the anniversary of the Revolution. "The Church is really praying that the church itself will be a center of healing and hope. Pray for the outcome of these elections that whoever is given the authority to reform parliament will be someone who would respect and protect the Christian minority in that country."