Global Trends by Martin Khor
Monday, 4 February 2011
After the revolt, many issues for the new
The incredible events last week have propelled
People across the world were mesmerised last week
by the remarkable images of the dramatic events in
In the end the courage, determination and fighting spirit of the millions of mainly young people that packed into streets in protest in many cities overcame a President that had been entrenched in power for over 30 years.
What started in
The jubilation of the masses in the streets and
After the celebrations of last weekend are the hard questions to answer, so that the achievement in the streets can be translated into real progress in the lives of people.
First is the political transformation from autocracy to democracy. Power was transferred from the President to the military leaders. That this transfer was taken as an acceptable arrangement by the protestors and seemingly by the opposition political parties and figures is quite remarkable.
The army is traditionally respected in
The military leaders must prepare to take on a new role, that of honest brokers that facilitate the building of new elements and structures of democracy. These include ending the state of emergency, drawing up a new constitution, enabling political parties and civil organisations to establish and flourish, having fair Presidential and parliamentary elections, and the assumption of power of the new leaders.
An important component is how the largely unorganised young people who were so courageous and articulate in the art of revolution draw themselves into the process and become key participants, instead of leaving politics only to professional politicians and the old-style parties.
The events in
They were supported by the show of “people power” of hundreds of thousands who surrounded the military buildings to prevent the defectors from being arrested or bombed out.
After Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos flew off to
Although a revolt by military leaders sparked the departure of Marcos, it was a popular civilian political leader (who had stood against Marcos in the Presidential elections and who the people were convinced had actually won) who took over power.
Unemployment is also high and rising, from 8.4% in 2008 to nearly 10% today. One in three young men aged 15 to 29 years was unemployed in 2009, according to a UNDP report.
This has led to insecurity, hopelessness and frustration among the youth, which contributed to their anger against Mubarak. The present euphoria from the overthrow of the President may be replaced by a new frustration if the jobs situation does not improve.
The rise in the price of bread led to riots in
2008, and in recent months food price inflation has shot up again.
It should revitalise its domestic agriculture sector and consider producing more of its own food, especially since world food supplies and prices have become so volatile.
The new Egyptian leaders may also consider strategies to improve the country's industrial and services sectors, and the trade, financial and technology policies that have to support these sectors.
The development policies should aim to be employment-intensive so that future growth can be accompanied by more jobs.
The world will also be eager to learn if there
will be a change in foreign policy in the new
Will the new
These are some of the questions, on the transition to democracy, on social issues and the economy, and on foreign policy, that the emerging leadership, as well as the ordinary Egyptians on the ground who carried out the tremendous change of the past few weeks, will have to grapple with.
The rest of the world wishes them the best of luck.