quarta-feira, 26 de janeiro de 2011
Egypt is in mainly in North Africa (Sinai peninsula is in Southwest Asia). It is a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean and the Islamic World. It covers an area of 1,010,000 square kilometers (30th world country by land area) and 79,711,000 citizens (15th world country by population). The majority of its population lives in Cairo, Alexandria and near the banks of the Nile River, where arable land is. Egypt is famous by its ancient civilization and some of the world’s most famous monuments. Egypt possesses one of the most developed and diversified economies in the Middle East, with sectors such as tourism, agriculture, industry and service at almost equal production levels. The Egyptian economy is rapidly developing, due in part to legislation aimed at luring investments, coupled with both internal and political stability, along with recent trade and market liberalization. About 60% of the population (90% of the unemployed) is under 30 years old. And about 40% live on less than 2$ a day. A third is illiterate.
On 6 October 1981, President Sadat was assassinated by Islamic extremists. Hosni Mubarak, Vice President since 1975 and air force commander during the October 1973 war, was elected President later that month.
President Mubarak has been re-elected by majority votes in a referendum for successive terms on four occasions: in 1987, 1993 and 1999. The referendum in itself and its results are of questionable validity. No one could run against the President due to a restriction in the Egyptian constitution in which the People's Assembly played the main role in electing the President of the Republic.
After increased domestic and international pressure for democratic reform in Egypt, Mubarak asked the parliament on 26 February 2005 to amend the constitution to allow multi-candidate presidential elections by September 2005. Previously, Mubarak secured his position by having himself nominated by parliament, then confirmed without opposition in a referendum.
The September 2005 ballot was therefore a multiple candidate election rather than a referendum, but the electoral institutions, and security apparatus remain under the control of the President. The official state media, including the three government newspapers and state television express views identical to the official line taken by Mubarak. In recent years however, there has been a steady growth in independent newspapers which occasionally criticize the President and his family. Satellite channels beaming from Egypt such as the Orbit Satellite Television and Radio Network, also exhibit relative openness as exhibited in their flagship program Al Qahira Al Yawm. In the last few years however, the cabinet headed by Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif has been somewhat successful in turning things around. In several elections, including the 2005 one, reports have shown that Mubarak's party used government vehicles to take public employees to vote for him. Votes were bought for Mubarak in poor suburbs and rural areas. It was also reported that thousands of illegal votes were allowed for Mubarak from citizens who were not registered to vote. On 8 September 2005, Dr. Ayman Nour, a dissident and candidate for the Al-Ghad party, contested the election results, and demanded a repeat of the election. In a move seen as political persecution, Nour was convicted of forgery and sentenced to five years at hard labor on 24 December 2005.
A dramatic drop in support for Mubarak and his domestic economic reform program increased with surfacing news about his son Alaa being extremely corrupt and favored in government tenders and privatization. As Alaa started getting out of the picture by 2000, Mubarak’s second son Gamal started rising in the National Democratic Party and succeeded in getting a newer generation of neo-liberals into the party and eventually the government. Gamal Mubarak branched out with a few colleagues to set up Medinvest Associates Ltd., which manages a private equity fund, and to do some corporate finance consultancy work. A corporate finance consultancy firm headed by the President's own son also raises questions of corruption, influence peddling and political power-brokerage, the same type of accusations leveled against his brother Alaa. Due to Gamal's increasing visibility and influence, rumors about him being groomed for the presidency have become common, especially after his March 2009 trip to the United States. Nevertheless, this was publicly denied by the president several times. Moreover, although some of the public generally like Gamal Mubarak as a person, many believe that his succession would mean a hereditary pseudo-monarchy.
President Mubarak has immense control over Egypt. He is even considered by many to be an autocrat, though a moderate one. Mubarak has maintained Egypt's commitment to the Camp David peace process, while at the same time re-establishing Egypt's position as an Arab leader. Egypt was readmitted to the Arab League in 1989. Egypt also has played a moderating role in such international forums as the UN and the Nonaligned Movement.
Revolution under way
Recently, after the revolution in Tunisia against the politics of Ben Ali, that had as consequence the running of Ben Ali and his family to Saudi Arabia, Egyptian activists took the street to end Mubarak’s 30-year rule. Three protesters and a policeman were all ready killed in these days of manifestations against Mubarak.
At 2011-01-26, police fired teargas and water canon to disperse protesters in Cairo. Police were deployed in large numbers around the capital.
CIA Fact Book. Background Note: Egypt
Somali.com, Recent History of Egypt
Wikipedia, History of Modern Egypt
Wikipedia, Mohammad Hosni Mubarak
Reuters, Police and anti-government protesters clash in Egypt
Picture from here