Egypt: jubilation gives way to skepticism over new regime
24 Feb, 2011 07:00
With Libya in the throes of violence, anti-government unrest in the Middle East and North Africa is showing little sign of dying down. And in Egypt, the question remains if those fighting for reforms will get the change they crave.
One month on from the outbreak of the revolution that saw Hosni Mubarak step down from power, many protestors who stood up to the Egyptian regime are still jubilant at what they achieved in Tahrir Square.“The moment that Mubarak stepped down and it was announced, we headed on to the streets, on the square. People just could not resist for a second to get overwhelmed by the joy of getting rid of that big figure of corruptioner, the regime,” says protester Amor Eietrebi.Western leaders were quick to throw their support behind the popular revolution in a country that had spent the last 30 years under Mubarak.However, support wasn't the only thing coming from those nations. During the uprising, Western rumors were rife that Mubarak had fled Cairo and was headed to Germany. Later, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said that Colonel Gaddafi had left Tripoli in the midst of the ongoing crisis there.“Protesters now are very cheered up. And the fact that they might be falsely made to believe that they have won, that they have achieved a victory is very dangerous, because the heating up of the situations opens the door for other countries, for other power structures to come into Egypt and to come into to Libya, and to come into Tunisia and all other countries to try and take some advantage. In some cases it might be a great advantage from what is happening,” says Adrian Salbuchi, Middle East expert and author.A country policed by the army is hardly the image that many in the West associate with a democratic nation. However that has not stopped world leaders speaking about a newly-democratic Egypt.The country is now being watched over by the armed forces, while a partial curfew is still in place in Cairo.Many key figures of Mubarak's regime remain in the current cabinet, including Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik, a figure of hate for the revolutionaries who met with David Cameron during the British leader’s visit this week. The visit was termed crass in some circles as Cameron was on his way to the Gulf States to hawk the UK arms industry.Political groups in Egypt are calling for a million-strong march to demand a new cabinet.So how do those who helped remove Mubarak feel about the future?“The army is in charge. They are taking action. They have the hand, upper hand, taking everyone, everything under control,” Amor Eietrebi says. “And we are getting more and more to figure that fact and hate it and think how we are going to deal with it. We don’t want to replace one military regime with another.” Potentially elections could take place in around six months. However, political sources in the country suggest this could come too soon for a nation emerging from three decades of dictatorship.