Islamists win two-thirds seats in Egypt’s parliament; the polices they pursue on the Nile River By Keffyalew Gebremedhin

January 24th, 2012 Print Print Email Email

The election to the new Egyptian parliament is just finalized after three-stage processes that lasted from November 2011 to January 2012. The candidates competed for 332 of the 498 seats in the Lower House and two Islamist parties have captured a total of 232 seats.

Seats were allocated to the winning parties in a complicated manner, mainly pairing ballots to a split of worker/farmer seats. What matters is the that Egyptians have spoken and, therefore, the judgment is that they and the international observers are content with the outcome of the election and it has been found clean, fair and transparent.

On Saturday, the Egyptian Supreme Electoral Commission made public that Islamist parties have taken the most seats, with the Moslem Brotherhood (Freedom Justice Party — FJP) and Salafists Nour Party in a controlling position. The Moslem Brotherhood won 38 percent, i.e., 127 seats and the Nour 29 percent or 96 seats.

This means that the total number of seats under the control of Islamist parties is 223 + plus designation, which means about 70 percent of the total seats.

Over 80 years behind it in politics and mostly kept under the leash by Egypt’s rulers, this is the first time in modern Egypt that the Moslem Brotherhood emerges as the dominant power in that country. This victory gives the Brotherhood the post of parliamentary speaker. And it is reported that the party has nominated its secretary-general Mohamed al-Katatni for the post, whose reputation so far is that of a moderate.

Liberal parties not performing well

Trailing far behind are the moderates or non-Islamist parties, with the Wafd party taking 36 seats (11.0 percent), the Egyptian Bloc 33 seats (about 10.0 percent) and the Revolution Continues party 2.0 percent.

Some of the already known parties such as the Free Egyptians, Al-Gad and the Democratic Front did not meet the threshold required for parliamentary representation and did not qualify, when the offshoots of Mubarak’s National Democratic Party (NPD) garnered 4 percent of the seats, i.e., 13 seats.

The New York Times sees the two Islamist parties as “rivals rather than collaborators.” More importantly, the Moslem Brotherhood party has indicated that it would “respect personal liberties.” As far as the party’s agenda are concerned, Mohamed Katatni is quoted saying, “The top priorities of the next parliament are social justice, retribution for martyrs, fulfilling goals and demands of the revolution and the advancement of Egypt.”

Which way Egypt?

Egyptian policy is likely to be driven by the country’s fundamental interests, such as its desire to exercise control over the waters of the Nile, economic growth and regaining its lost leadership in the Arab World. By the faint sign of things so far, Egypt seems interested in revitalizing its activities with Nile upstream states and forging closer relations with Libya and the Sudan. It would not also come as surprise, if Egypt makes gestures toward Iran, while keeping its relations with Israel in the deep freezer.

As far as the Nile issue is concerned, following that country’s brief hiatus Egypt’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Kamel during the first week of January undertook a tour of six Nile Basin countries: Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Congo, South Sudan and Sudan. Not much has come and achieved by way of outcomes.

Foreign ministry Spokesperson Amr Rushdi simply said on 18 January that the minister was interested in strengthening relations with the Basin countries. A step in that direction is The minister’s invitation to his counterparts in the DR Congo, Tanzania, Rwanda and Kenya to visit Cairo. The intention of the visit is made clearer by the remarks of the foreign minister in Juba, South Sudan, where he said, “We realise that our brothers in South Sudan are aware of Egypt’s interests and the importance of the Nile water for Egypt.”

Perhaps in the minister’s calculation is the need to galvanize support and sympathy to Egypt’s position on the framework agreement signed by the six upstream states of Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda that is ready to come into effect once the Egyptian government and the parliament manage to pronounce themselves on it.

Its delay and postponement by a year by next May — more likely to be longer than that — is the outcome of the signatories desire to enable the Egyptian government to seize the opportunities and join them. If not, at the latest the agreement may come into effect by 2013. although it is not still clear how much successful it would be without Egypt.

The question now is whether the policies of the new Egypt on the Nile would be any different from the Mubarak era. Certainly, there may be differences of style, more frequent visits and interactions with upstream countries and offer of token Egyptian assistance, since one major accusation against the Mubarak regime was that of ignoring Africa.

Nevertheless, given what some of the candidates in the different parties in Egypt uttered during the campaigns and the so-called think tanks and research centers have been suggesting to formalize that, it is unlikely that there would be any meaningful changes in Egypt’s policies regarding the Nile question.

It is possible that Egypt may only bombard upper riparian states of the Nile Basin with a series of new proposals, whose motives may only be to delay the coming to force of the new framework agreement, or if possible, derail its implementation altogether.

Along that line and completely moving away from the principle of equal access to the Nile waters by all states of the Basin, as being advocated now by the upstream states in their framework agreement, Egypt has started testing the waters with a new notion of packaging projects involving southern African states into a new cooperative framework.

Theoretically, integrated approach to development may have greater benefits where the infrastructures and possibilities exist through efficiencies and economies of scale; but not in conditions where the incremental gains may prove more productive.

In the circumstances, if the idea of project packaging on a wider geographic scale that now is being floated is serious, the burden of another decade-long negotiations would certainly render it a non-starter, much less it being practicable.

Fortunately, eleven years of negotiations with Egypt on the forums of the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) have equipped upper riparian states with the much-needed ESP (extra-sensory perception) to differentiate between Egypt’s serious and clever moves. The first is a reflection of its intentions to attain given objectives, while the latter action taken for mere affects sakes the purpose of which is to bid time.

If Egypt goes via this latter approach its intention is the latter, since what Egypt may want is to prevent implementation of the framework agreement signed by the six upstream states.

Already Egyptian experts have started warning, “Unless there are serious studies on joint or integrated projects in fields like electricity and agriculture followed by implementation of these projects, the water file will be a cause of conflict among Nile Basin states,” according to Al Ahram in an article entitled Basin bonding.

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  1. TMIE TO REPENT
    | #1

    The dominance of Islamists in egyptian politics means the end of peace and tranquility in the region. Keep your eyes open on what is happening in the Middle East. Iran will soon have a nuclear weapon. They are desperately trying to acquire the nuke for a purpose, i.e to destroy Israel, and once a nuclear weapon is launched it will just be the end. Islamists are getting the upper hand in this region.

    It is a sign of the end times. The Bible says, there will be wars and rumours of wars (ie terrorism, popular uprisings similar to the arab spring), pestilence, drought, famine, floods and tsunamis as the second coming of Christ approaches. All these signs are being manifested through out the world.

    Repent and turn from your sins. Believe in the Lord and you will be saved for ever. AMEN

  2. Anonymous
    | #2

    The commenter above, please stop preaching the same tired and lame lines repeated by the hate, war mongering and biased western media and leaders here to us. If you were intelligent enough which i doubt you are, You would have been ecstatic and happy for the outcome of this very election which people exercised free and fair for the first time in their history. Instead, You are spitting out what you are fed by the one sided media as well as the child molester priests at your local church.

    And your attempt to link the signs of the day of judgment with the rise of Islamist who by the way come to power through fair and free elections chosen by their people through out the region has failed face first. The signs of the last days if you were asleep came a long time ago when the Western nations started legalizing gays and homosexuals, when started wiping out a whole population from the face of the earth for their own gain, when they started developing all these deadly weapons which they also are the only ones to ever put them to use, when Israel was created and acquired nuclear bomb and when they took the few took control of the whole world through spreading fear, greed and corruption. All done by your kinds who call themselves Christians and darlings in the west. Good ha ? If anyone need to come and repent all their sins to the LORD of the worlds [Not Jesus but ALLAH} NOW, It would be your feeders at the top in the west followed by you and your kinds at the lower level of the pyramid.

    ‘Repent and turn from your sins. Believe in the Lord and you will be saved for ever. AMEN’ Amin indeed.

  3. okidoki
    | #3

    The commenter above, please stop preaching the same tired and lame lines repeated by the hate, war mongering and biased western media and leaders here to us. If you were intelligent enough which i doubt you are, You would have been ecstatic and happy for the outcome of this very election which people exercised free and fair for the first time in their history. Instead, You are spitting out what you are fed by the one sided media as well as the child molester priests at your local church.

    And your attempt to link the signs of the day of judgment with the rise of Islamist who by the way come to power through fair and free elections chosen by their people through out the region has failed face first. The signs of the last days if you were asleep came a long time ago when the Western nations started legalizing gays and homosexuals, when started wiping out a whole population from the face of the earth for their own gain, when they started developing all these deadly weapons which they also are the only ones to ever put them to use, when Israel was created and acquired nuclear bomb and when they took the few took control of the whole world through spreading fear, greed and corruption. All done by your kinds who call themselves Christians and darlings in the west. Good ha ? If anyone need to come and repent all their sins to the LORD of the worlds [Not Jesus but ALLAH} NOW, It would be your feeders at the top in the west followed by you and your kinds at the lower level of the pyramid.

    ‘Repent and turn from your sins. Believe in the Lord and you will be saved for ever. AMEN’ Amin indeed.

  4. Rezene Kaddisaba
    | #4

    Great article –
    In a similar note; I see the Islamists gaining power as an advantage for Ethiopia – since the west may look Egypt differently than before. As we are getting stronger by the day – the west can see us as a balancing power in the region – this in effect will get us a lot of needed economical, military and political support.

  5. Oda Tulu
    | #5

    Good point #4 above.

  6. Anonymous
    | #6

    #4 is weyane.

  7. Dawi
    | #7

    #4 You opportunist you :- )

    What else should we be “hoping to come” to get support from the West? Elected gov. run by: Al Shebab of Somalia, Jihadist Eritrea, Sudan, Djibouti or greater Afar?

  8. Rezene Kaddisaba
    | #8

    Gash Dawi –
    If we are talking politics – we dont need to be naive -Guess what Egypt has we all the 8 raparians dont have: the Western powers support. When they have to choose b/n the 8 countries & Egypt – they choose Egypt. What I am saying is this may change given thier current relation with Israel may change as they become more ‘religious’.
    Egyptians have made us a laughing stock for centuries. They have been and currently are stopping any support from WB, IMF or so. Even the chinese currently supporting one tributary dam, the name I forget, resisted to resume funding because of the influence of Egypt. Dont feel big just because Eth comes next to your name – we need to take every opportunity to make advantage of situations. If that makes us ‘opportunist’ so be it.

  9. Anonymous
    | #9

    the winning of the islamists might have advantage for us or for ethiopia. i believe the USA and Westerns will oppose islamists in egypt because of their radical attitudes and their view of israel, so egypt will lose its financial, political, and military aid. i m sure the westerns will be with us and will fund our blue nile dam project so we will laugh on egypt once again. i don’t believe that islamist parties would bring peace and prosperity in egypt,but they might bring war, killing, and hate between christian and muslims as we saw in cairo last year. i don’t think the military will give power for the islamists because of these reasons. down with islamists !!!

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