Subscribe to FDD

Political Instability in Egypt

April 2013

  • On February 11, 2011, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stepped down after three decades of rule amid mass protests.
  • Before stepping down, Mubarak handed over power to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), headed by the Minister of Defense Field Marshall Hussein Tantawi.
  • SCAF stepped in to guide the country through a transition to democracy, but instead dismissed parliament and suspended the constitution.
  • On March 19, 2011, SCAF with the help of mainly Islamist constitutional experts, put a “constitutional declaration” (temporary constitution) to a referendum.
  • Though the declaration would lift the curfews and return security forces to restore order and safety, it was opposed by all secular forces.
  • Islamists roundly backed the Referendum, which was approved by 77 percent of the country.
  • The referendum created a gap between seculars and Islamists: seculars wanted a constitution to guarantee liberties and democracy. Islamists and SCAF wanted early legislative elections where the winner gets to draft the constitution.
  • On September 10, 2011, a mob storms the Israeli embassy in Cairo, forcing diplomats to flee. The security forces did little to prevent this assault.
  • On October 9, 2011, the military police attacked peaceful Coptic demonstrations, killing 25 people.
  • On November 19, 2011 clashes and major protests erupted in Cairo’s central Tahrir Square to oppose the early legislative elections.
  • Despite the unrest, in late November and December, legislative elections took place in a relatively peaceful climate.
  • Islamists were well organized and well funded. Non-Islamists were disorganized, under-funded and not prepared.
  • The results of the legislative elections were announced on January 22, 2012, giving Islamists parties a majority in the People’s Assembly.
  • The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) won 47% of the seats, followed by the more conservative Nour Party with 25 percent of the seats, then the liberal Wafd Party with 7% of the seats.
  • Islamists had a majority to form a “constituent assembly” to draft a new permanent constitution.
  • Amidst continued political tensions, on April 12, 2012, Egypt’s Administrative Court dissolved the 100-member Islamist dominated “Constituent Assembly”.
  • On June 24, 2012, Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood won the presidential election with a narrow majority.
  • On June 30, 2012, Mohamed Morsi sworn in as the first civilian President of Egypt.
  • A week after his election, Morsi issued a decree for the return of the dissolved parliament.
  • The move provoked public anger and started a wave of protests. The Supreme Constitutional Court ruled reversed Morsi’s decree on July 9.
  • On August 12, President Morsi fired most of the top military commanders, including Field Marshal Tantawi.
  • On the same day, Morsi issues a new constitutional declaration granting him broad legislative and constitutional powers never enjoyed by any of Egypt’s presidents.
  • Morsi attempts to remove Egypt’s general prosecutor on October 11. The move provokes public anger and triggers mass protests. His second attempt is successful in November.
  • On November 28 president Morsi grants himself all executive, legislative and some judicial powers in order to speed up the process of writing the constitution.
  • Two weeks later, the new constitution is approved by referendum amid allegations of irregularities by the opposition. Major protests start nationwide.
  • The January 25 second anniversary of the revolution intensifies the protests. More than 60 protestors killed near the prudential palace.
  • The street protests continue as the economy continues to deteriorate. The Egyptian Pound looses about 20 percent of its value in the first two months of 2013.
  • The political crisis affects tourism and foreign investments, two of the main sources of hard currency.
  • Attempts at a national dialogue and reconciliation between the government and the secularist opposition have failed, blocking any prospect for stability and a better economy.
  • The secularist opposition insists on constitutional reform and more inclusiveness in government to solve the political crisis.
  • The continuation of the political crisis puts Egypt at risk of uprisings as the economy continues to deteriorate.