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4 ways Mohamed Morsi can push Egypt toward democracy
Despite inaugurating its first democratically elected president, the country is still controlled by the military. Will Morsi change that?
 
Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi is presented with the military's highest honor, the "shield of Armed Forces," following his inauguration Saturday.
Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi is presented with the military's highest honor, the "shield of Armed Forces," following his inauguration Saturday.
AP Photo/Egyptian Presidency

This weekend, Mohamed Morsi was sworn in as Egypt's first-ever democratically elected president, declaring that "the Egyptian people have established a new life, with real freedom and real democracy." However, the moment's historical import was hollowed by recent moves by the military to strengthen its own hold on power. After a military-backed court dissolved parliament in June, the army took control of the legislative process and the drafting of Egypt's new constitution. In addition, military leaders are in charge of the country's security forces and major sectors of the economy. Still, many analysts say Morsi and his former party, the Muslim Brotherhood, have enough popular appeal to chip away at the army's supremacy and make Egypt more democratic. Here, four ways Morsi can bring true democracy to Egypt:

1. Deliver on his promises of stability and economic growth
The strongest card in Morsi's hand is the support of the public, which has urgent concerns beyond the power struggles between the Muslim Brotherhood and the army. Uppermost in Egyptian minds "are jobs, improved health care, better education, and a government that can deliver services without corruption," says James Zogby at the UAE's The National. Morsi's campaign was partly based on economic promises, and the most pressing objective is to bring enough stability to the country to rejuvenate tourism, a major component of the Egyptian economy. Egyptian voters "want him to implement [these] promises today, not tomorrow," says Avi Issacharoff at Israel's Haaretz.

2. Broaden his support beyond Islamists
Morsi will have "to keep intact the broad coalition of Islamists and non-Islamists that brought him to the fore," says Omar Ashour at Project Syndicate. In addition to wooing the secular, liberal forces that unleashed the revolution against former strongman Hosni Mubarak, Morsi will have to reach out to Egypt's minority Coptic Christians, who "voted overwhelmingly for Mr. Morsi's rival," a Mubarak-era crony, over "concerns about having an Islamist head of state," says Muhammad Shukri at the BBC. Like any democratically elected head of state, Morsi must "accept the legitimate rights" of those who don't necessarily support him, says Zogby.

3. Don't overreach
"Anything that smacks of a Brotherhood plan to monopolize power will create resistance" among the public, says Trudy Rubin at The Philadelphia Inquirer. Indeed, the Brotherhood "set off alarm bells" when it broke its earlier promise not to field a presidential candidate — a move originally interpreted as a Brotherhood attempt to control parliament and the presidency, says Zogby. The backlash primarily came from the military and the courts, which dissolved parliament, but non-Islamist voters were frightened by the Brotherhood's perceived attempt at one-party control, too.

4. Make nice with America
The Egyptian military is heavily dependent on the U.S. for aid, and the "U.S. can help by pressing Egypt's generals to make good on their earlier promise to transfer power to a civilian government," says The Baltimore Sun in an editorial. If Morsi maintains Egypt's peace treaty with Israel, as he has promised to do, and makes concrete progress in recognizing "certain universal human rights," he can expect support from the Obama administration, says The Washington Post in an editorial. 

Sources: The Baltimore SunBBCHaaretzThe NationalThe New York Times (2), The Philadelphia InquirerProject Syndicate, The Washington Post

 

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