يؤدى الرئيس أمام مجلس الشعب قبل أن يباشر مهام منصبه اليمين الآتية:
“أقسم بالله العظيم أن أحافظ مخلصا على النظام الجمهوري، وأن احترم الدستور والقانون، وأن أرعى مصالح الشعب رعاية كاملة، وأن أحافظ على استقلال الوطن وسلامة أراضيه”.
Millions of Egyptians, myself included, still do not comprehend that Mubarak is being questioned, and may stand trial soon. As the questioning and trial continues, it is important to understand why he should be held accountable, and against what crimes. Mubarak’s top crime is not upholding the constitutional oath of the presidential office, an oath that he was sworn to uphold five times over thirty years.
Before getting into petty crimes of financial corruption, or even the specific incidents during the revolution’s 18 days, we need to look at Mubarak’s role and duties as the head of the state; the President. Article 79 of the (now obsolete) Egyptian Constitution states that: Before exercising his functions, the President shall take the following oath before the People’s Assembly: “I swear by Almighty God to uphold the Republican system with loyalty, to respect the Constitution and the law, and to look after the interests of the people fully and to safeguard the independence and territorial integrity of the motherland”. So how did he perform against this simple oath that he did swear not just once but five times: in 1981, 1987, 1993, 1999 and 2005?
Did Hosni Mubarak “uphold the republican system” ??
By promoting his son, Gamal to inherit the presidency, Mubarak was effectively destroying the republican system. The evidence that the Gamal project was far beyond anyone’s expectations are numerous. In addition to promoting Gamal as his successor, Mubarak delegated many of his powers to his son. Gamal Mubarak effectively reigned over Egypt for the past two presidential terms! He met with foreign dignitaries in Egypt and abroad, controlled the cabinet, set policies, managed the security apparatus and even created his own NDP thugs militias.
Did Hosni Mubarak “respect the constitution and the law” ??
By rigging the national elections once and again, especially in the 2010 parliamentary elections, Mubarak destroyed the most important institution of the republic. In many occasions, Mubarak and his regime refused to implement the rulings of the highest courts of the land in numerous economic and political cases.
Through systemic torture and human rights violations, targeting anyone with opposing political views, Mubarak and his regime were responsible for thousands of cases of extra-judicial killings, torture, disappearances and imprisonment. Many of these incidents were documented by human rights organizations, including the government-sponsored Human Rights Council. More graphic details became public and documented after the revolution.
Did Hosni Mubarak “look after the interests of the people fully” ??
You can always argue whether some policies were in the interest of the people or not. However, it is hard to argue that systematic economic corruption, especially in deals associated with privatization of state-owned enterprises and the sale of public land. Billions; arguably hundreds of billions of Egyptian pounds were wasted in such deals, instead of being channeled to services, infrastructure development, or job creation – much needed by Egyptians.
There are also numerous incidents where the government ignored cases of public negligence resulting in hundreds of deaths and injuries in trains, ferries, fires or building collapses. Most of these incidents were not investigated or prosecuted to protect specific individuals closely aligned with the regime.
And finally, did Hosni Mubarak “safeguard the independence and territorial integrity of the motherland” ??
Yes, Mubarak kept Egypt safe from many regional wars. His risk averse regional policies kept Egypt from wars and regional adventures, one must admit this reality. However, his policies also diminished Egypt’s regional power and its ability to protect its interests, and directly affecting the livelihood of its citizens. The most prominent examples are the division of Sudan; and the lack of attention of the Nile basin countries endangering our water resources.
To me, Mubarak’s top crime is that he did not uphold the constitutional oath of the presidential office, an oath that he was sworn to uphold five times over thirty years. There is only one name for these crimes, but I will shy away from using this word in my blog.
There are other allegations of economic corruption and profiting from presidential powers, these allegations include seeking commissions on national deals, ranging from the Israeli oil exports, to weapons imports, to sovereign loan repurchases (by his son, Gamal). These allegations are very hard to prove, but should still be prosecuted. However, they should not take priority from the above mentioned crimes.
While many Egyptians are happy to see their ex-pharaoh under investigation, many feel sympathy for him and his family, and believe that the revolution has
“gone too far”. They argue that this is a vindictive behavior driven by feelings of revenge and hatred, rather than justice, and that it will backfire in many ways. I disagree. First, the prosecution are made in normal courts and using normal laws; no emergency laws, military courts, or any extrajudicial process. Second, cleaning up corruption starts from the top. As long as he and his family remain beyond prosecution, it sends a clear signal that you can still get away with all these acts of political and economic corruption. Third, human rights violations are crimes against humanity that do not expire over time; they must be prosecuted. Forth, these prosecutions give a strong signal to the new president, prime minister and ministers; a signal that they also can be prosecuted if they follow Mubarak’s suit.
Mubarak and company have always made the argument that “we’re all corrupt”. They argued that all Egyptians are corrupt, so let’s not pretend to be honest and make demands for accountability. However, there is a big difference between those who are forced to pay or accept a 10 LE bribe to survive in a corrupt system that they have not created, and those who created the corrupt system in the first place. Mubarak and his top echelon have intentionally created a corrupt and corrupting regime that goes deep in the state and society, simply to make this argument, and to maintain their own power and control. As the head of this corrupt regime falls, the rest of his regime will fall over time. And the way this takes place – through the normal justice system – will set the role model for the future.
Finally, I have to admit that I was surprised, pleasantly surprised, that the army has allowed for the trial of Mubarak and his sons; and that they have gone through the normal laws and courts.
Amin Elmasry. 15 April 2011.