The Egyptian elections have begun despite the many attempts to abort, obstruct or derail them. Millions of voters are electing a parliament to express their will and authority. We are about to accomplish the most important aims of the revolution: the building of a real democratic system, after getting rid of – or almost – the repressive dictatorship.
The military council has so far honoured its pledge to hold elections and protect them. It should continue the process to the end and accept the results, and the rights and powers of parliament. It is impossible for millions of Egyptians to go to the polls and vote for a parliament without authority. So the military council must now announce the handover of legislative powers to parliament, and the caretaker government must present any new legislation to the parliament for approval.
The council must also affirm that any government that does not enjoy the confidence of parliament will not be able to remain in office; and that the formation and survival of a government will be decided by the parliament’s majority.
It is equally important that political parties and independent candidates declare their acceptance of the election results. Any objections to election results should be made through constitutional mechanisms while maintaining calm in the constituencies and Egyptian street. This would send a clear message to those who wait to ambush Egypt, internally and externally: a message that we have begun a new phase in our political lives. We abide by the rules of democracy, and accept the will of the people. There will be winners and losers. But the real – and only – victor is Egypt.
Our great revolutionary youth, who started and are still guarding the revolution, must also bear their solemn responsibility before the country and history. The handover of the power to the people in a peaceful manner through the ballot box is the safest and quickest way of ensuring the return of the armed forces to their natural role. We all want to build a new police force imbued with a new culture: one that respects the citizens and their rights, protects them when they express their opinions, and dares not to attack them.
All of us must recognise that the election is not the end of the road. Instead, it is the beginning of a long and difficult path of nation-building. Bringing about this renaissance is a most risky historic responsibility – a challenge that Egypt faces as a nation. Either we become one or we don’t. History will show no mercy.
Any attempt to prevent the people from choosing who should represent them – through the suspension or derailing of elections – is actually paving the way for the military council to continue administering the country, with all the perils this entails.
There are international and regional forces that seek to restore the policies and personalities of the defunct regime. They realise that the Arab people will regain their independence – and a greater political, cultural and economic unity – if the Arab spring is completed. To these forces we say: the differences of opinion between the political parties will only produce increased co-operation for the greater good of our country; and the stability of Egypt, its transition to democracy and building of a democratic society in tandem with other Arab states, especially in north Africa, will have positive effects on the Mediterranean basin, Europe and the world.
We have a deep trust in all sections of Egyptian society and their determination to rebuild their country, and restore its leadership role in this region. We look to the future with hope. Egyptians will continue to make history.
By Essam El-Arian, vice-president of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice party in Egypt.