Egypt's Military Drafts New Presidential Law, Moves Toward Democracy

As Egypt’s second round of parliamentary elections enters its second day, the ruling military council has drafted a new election law to designate restrictions on those seeking the presidency. The law is expected to become effective in June of next year.

The Middle East News Agency (MENA) announced Thursday that according to the new law, candidates must have the support of 30 members of parliament or 30,000 citizen signatures to run for the presidency.

The 30,000 signatures must come from at least 15 of Egypt’s 27 governorates, and any political party holding a seat in parliament may forward one of its candidates for the presidential race.

The drafting of this new presidential law serves as another attempt for Egypt to move away from the previous autocratic leadership of President Hosni Mubarak toward a more democratic government.

Mubarak was reportedly able to maintain his rule in Egypt since 1967 due to rigged elections and autocratic practices.

Egypt’s Freedom and Justice Party, founded by the Muslim Brotherhood, is the main contender for holding parliamentary seats; the party won the first round of elections last week by 45 percent, and are expected to dominate the second round of elections as well.

Although it is an Islamic political party, the Brotherhood promises to employ democratic practices if elected, downplaying its expected integration of Islamic law and politics.

Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie told a private television station earlier this month that his party plans to govern parliament with “all colors of the rainbow” in mind, aiming for “one direction, one goal.”

As Cairo’s National Center for Social and Criminal Research reported, a preliminary public survey indicates that former Arab League Secretary General Amr Mousa received 23.3 percent of public approval for the presidency.

The uprisings in Egypt, which began in February, are aimed at establishing democratic governance. The public protested again in November expressing a desire for the military interim government to hasten its exit from power.

Evidently, government officials are responding. The drafting of this presidential law and the continued parliamentary elections show that the military council is preparing for its exit from power.