For Immediate Release: December 8, 2011
New York City – Egyptian General Mukhtar al-Mulla, a member of the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), yesterday made comments to American and British journalists suggesting that the Egyptian military may be willing to derail Egypt’s transition to democracy in order to maintain its grip on power and avoid public scrutiny over its budget and activities.
“General al-Mulla’s statements that the initial results of the elections ‘do not represent the full Egyptian public,’ and his insistence that the SCAF would control the constitution drafting process through an appointed ‘civilian advisory council,’ show disregard for the views of millions of Egyptian voters who took part in what were probably their nation’s freest ever elections,” said Human Rights First’s Neil Hicks.
Hicks notes that there are legitimate concerns that supporters of extreme Islamist groups that polled well in the elections could threaten basic rights and freedoms in areas including women’s rights, religious freedom and freedom of expression. However, the SCAF also has a notably poor record on these and other human rights issues in its ten months in power. Instead of using its time in charge to strengthen legal protections for basic rights and freedoms and to build institutions that will ensure that Egypt’s transition moves forward on a firm foundation,the SCAF has been primarily concerned with protecting its own interests and privileges. For example, General al-Mulla ridiculed suggestions from reporters that Egypt’s military budget might be subject to parliamentary scrutiny.
“By setting up a confrontation with the emerging elected parliament, Egypt’s military junta is playing a dangerous game,” observed Hicks. “Ultimately, Egypt’s peaceful transition to democracy must rest on the consent of the people and protection of the basic rights and freedoms of all Egyptians. It will not be advanced by the unelected SCAF riding roughshod over representative democratic institutions.”