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NON -VIOLENT REVOLUTION AS A MEANS OF DEMOCRATIC CHANGE IN AFRICA: A CASE STUDY OF EGYPT, 2011.
Background to the Study
The history of the 20th century is full of examples that demonstrate that violence resistance against unjust power systems, dictators or external occupation is likely to generate further violence as was seen for example, in the Russian and Chinese revolutions and decolonization wars in Africa and Asia(Alexander, 2010). But it has also been characterized by many powerful nonviolent struggles; some of these are widely known e.g. the Gandhian freedom struggles in lndia, Martin Luther king Jr’s civil rights campaigns in theUnited Statesamong others. Although the power of nonviolent resistance does seem weak and inefficient in the face of accent power asymmetries, it has proven to be a very strategic tool in the hand of marginalized communities to redress structural imbalances and claim right of justice and self-determination( Hassan,2011).
Fundamentally the events that began in the beginning of2011 inthe Arab world were unprecedented in history. In the words of Oviasogie (2012) there was mass public protest that swept through the region with attendant effect for the future.
The demonstration sent away long serving presidents out of their countries who prior to then saw themselves as manifest destinies or God ordained right to rule. The government and regimes in the regions prior to Arab spring were a salad of autocrats that viewed any other centre as competition. Persistence was the hall mark of the regimes. For instance, the Al-sand governedSaudi Arabiasince 1932, Sultan Assad family reigned inSyriasince 1970, and Qaddati ruledLibyasince 1969, Mubarak since 1981 and Ali Abdullah Sallah ruled in Yemen Arab republic in 1978 and again as the President of Unified Yemen in 1990 to mention just a few cases of longevity (Sorenson, 2010 Anderson, 2009). These mighty men kept their regimes by embracing patron age, the violation of human right, repression by state security agents among other mediums. The Arab spring according to Maogoto and Coleman (2011) is an example of the pitfall of centralism.
InEgypt, the story was not different,Egyptbefore the Arab spring was in a deep multi-dimensional crisis (Shorbagy, 2009), the nature of democratic practices inEgypthad assumed diverse dimensions. The constitution of modernEgypthas always given the president virtual monopoly over the decision making process, devoting thirty 30 articles 15% to Presidential prerogatives. Bassem (2012) viewed number of republic embracing Arab socialism such asSyriaandEgyptregularly hold elections and these are not fully multiparty system. Most importantly they do not allow citizens to choose between lots of different candidates for presidential elections in addition to corrupt practice with the elections. These are the nature of messed democratic practice inEgyptuntil 2011 when Egyptian decided to take the bull by the horn by engaging in non-violent revolution aimed at getting Hosni mubarak out of office.
In spite the legitimate and moral demands of Egyptian protesters, they resolved not to be satisfied until justice had become the yardstick in enthroning democratic values and changes inEgypt. Prior to the above scenario, Mubarak had before been reelected by majority votes in a referendum for successive terms on four occasions in 1987, 1993, 1999, and 2005. The referendum in itself and its results are questionable. No one could run against the president due to a restriction in the Egyptian constitution in which the People’s Assembly played the main role in electing the president.
However, after increased domestic and international pressure for democratic reform inEgypt, Mubarak asked the Parliament on26 February 2005to amend the constitution to allow multi-candidate presidential election by September 2005. Previously, Mubarak got his position by having himself nominated by parliament, then confirmed without opposition in a referendum, but electoral institutions and security apparatus remain under the control of the president.
After Mubarrak’s re-election in 2005, several political groups both in the left and right announced their sharp opposition to the inheritance power. These political groups were some of the major opposition parties that filled candidates to compete with Mubarrak in the 2005 Presidential election. These are New Wafd Party, Tomorrow Party, Solidarity Party, Democratic Union Party, Umma Party, National Conciliation Party, Egypt 2000 Party, Constitution Party and Egyptian Arab Socialist Party. Sharp (2005) noted that the election which was scheduled for7th September, 2005involved mass rigging activities. Notably, before 2011, Egyptians especially Muslim Brotherhood has been nursing the anger of the 2005 rigged presidential elections. The worsening part of it is the banning of Muslim brotherhood from contesting any election inEgypt. The Muslim brotherhood is considered the largest Islamic group inEgypt. Sharp (2005) maintained that Egypt’s largest Islamic group, the Muslim brotherhood was not permitted to stand candidates for 2005 elections because the organization was banned by government which prohibits political parties with stated religions agenda from contesting election.
The Egyptian presidential election held in7 September 2005was largely rigged in favour of Hosni Mubarrak. The Egyptians were nursing the anger before being moved to engage in non-violent protest movement with the successful ousting of President Ben. Ali of Tunisia by Tunisia protesters. Added to the issue of electoral rigging were the issue of deep political, economic and social problems and the absence of reform in the name of consolidating power and authority.
The protest by Egyptians over these abnormities signifies giant strides in the history ofEgypt. It awakened the civil societies that had been dormant for a long period of time and signaled the birth of political consciousness and to this effect, this study aims at examining the non-violent revolution inEgyptand the attendant democratic changes inAfrica.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Democratic governance envisages that those in the commanding heights of the economy like our leaders must strive to ensure that those essential life needs must be made available to the peoples. This is not so with the people of Egypt, rather what we see are human societies wearing community features manifested in corruption, bad road difficulty in transportation, lack of good drinking water, rigged election, power failures, unemployment, poor health facilities, general poverty, inadequate accommodation among others.
The fundamental question, is how could a regime change be ensured thereby bringing an end to this autocratic and oppressive regime. Basically two schools of thought emerged with different views on how to ensure regime changes, the Realistic school and the Strategic school of thought. The Realistic school argued that the best way to bring about change to an autocratic regime is through violent revolution. Scholars attributed to this view are Rogan (2011), Dankiract (1990), Nwabueze (1993). To this group of scholars, the autocrat wilds a lot power and the only way to oust him from office will be through violent revolution. On the other side of this ideological divide, the Strategic school of thought is of the view that the best way to ensure a regime change in an autocratic dispensation is through non-violent revolution. Contributions of non-violent scholars such as Arthur Romano (2011), Greene sharp (1973), Greene sharp (2005), Greene sharp (2011) Hand Judith (2010), Henry David Thoreau (1848), Luther King Jr(1967) among others have confirmed that non-violent demonstration remains the only way of making government change its policies when citizens feel unhealthy over such policies. These scholars foresaw a time when non-violent revolution would be geared towards a regime change entirely as was the case inEgypt. Generally, it is notable that, Egypt during the reign of Hosni Mubarrak was characterized with poor national economic performance, high level of corruption, joblessness, rising cost of food, regime misbehaviours and a lost of faith in the electoral system (Sorenson and Mazo 2011). This precipitated the non-violent revolution aimed at bringing about democratic change inEgypt. Notably, the Egyptian revolution was not of authoritarianism or repression, it was that of the problem of personalization of power. In other words, the revolution inEgypthad political, moral and economic causations as such it was a moral, political and economic one. Moral in the sense that it fought against corruption, political as in the quest for political freedom, the rule of law and respect for human rights and Economic freedom in that the citizens want to have a stake in the wealth and resources of the country and also have the poverty level reduced. It was a revolution of rising expectations, the quest for a better life, respect for human rights, reforms, political change, sovereignty and economic independence from indigenous colonial lords. It was a struggle for political transformation in the term that encapsulates the desires of the people. Generally, the protests were motivated or fueled by the quest for democratization and expanded citizen’s participation in politics. It is against this backdrop that this study examines the extent to which this non-violent revolution has brought about democratic changes inEgypt.
The problem of the study is therefore articulated in the following research questions.
i. To what extent has the Egyptian non-violent revolution brought about democratic change inEgypt?
ii. Has the democratic change enhanced the standard of living of the people ofEgypt?
iii. How have the activities of the elites, the military and Islamic forces, against Hosni Mubarak contributed in ensuring democratic change inEgypt?
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The broad objective of this study is to examine how non-violent revolution by the people ofEgyptcontributed in achieving democratic changes inEgypt. The specific objectives are;
i. To examine the extent to which the Egyptian non-violent revolution brought about democratic changes inEgypt.
ii. To ascertain if the democratic changes enhanced the standard of living of people ofEgypt.
iii. To determine how the activities of the elites, the military and Islamic forces against Hosni Mubarak contributed in ensuring democratic changes inEgypt.
1.4 Research Hypotheses
The following hypotheses were posited to guide the study
i. The Egyptian non-violent revolution has brought about democratic change inEgypt.
ii. The democratic changes have fundamentally enhanced standards of living of the people ofEgypt.
iii. The activities of elites, military and Islamic forces against Hosni Mubarak contributed essentially in ensuring democratic changes inEgypt.
1.5 Significance of the Study
The study has both theoretical and empirical significances. Theoretically, the study contributes to the literature on revolution. It will open new vista of knowledge on the subject, thus providing concerned stakeholders opportunity of understanding the causal factors of revolution, the establishment of an autocratic regime and mechanism despots use to entrench themselves in power.
Empirically, the study brings out the role of the civil societies in a successful non-violent revolution and seeks to enumerate elements that help in understanding that a democratic dispensation could be established. This is significant in the sense that it brings to bare factors that pull toward a protest or revolution within a country of study. Also the study is significant in that it attempts to proffer solutions towards solving the problem of autocratic rule through a vibrant civil societies thereby leading to mass participation in politics.
1.6 Scope and Limitation of the Study
The study concentrates on non-violent revolution as a means of democratic change inAfricawith particular focus onEgypt. The study covers the period of 2011 which was the period that witnessed the non-violent revolution by Egyptians against the dictatorial rule of Hosni Mubarak.
The research was constrained by lack of relevant editions at materials of the subject matter, also official secrecy of information which are empirically, scientifically and analytically valuable to the research was a source of concern.
Time was also another constraint since academic work of this nature is time limited.
1.7 Operationalization of Terms
In every academic endeavour such as this characterized by utmost magnitude and significance, words or groups of words are always borrowed to assist in the achievement of stated objectives. In order to properly situation the research in right perspective, it is indeed very important that words used in this research are explained. There are:
Non-violent: It means being peaceful, i.e. devoid of harm, clashes, wounds and the likes.
Revolution:- It means an uprising aimed at enthroning new pattern of governance in government.
Democratic:- The state of government being determined by majority.
Change:- Alter the pattern before now or shift from existing pattern to a new method.