President to address Egyptian parliament
Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi is set to address a session of the upper house of parliament today as he faces rising criticism over political and economic missteps that have prompted high-level resignations.
The resignation is pending of central bank governor Farouk El- Oqda who agreed to remain in his post for a few weeks to avert an economic crisis on condition that Mr Morsi agrees to meet the concerns of the opposition over increasing control of state affairs exercised by the Muslim Brotherhood, to which the president belongs.
Finance minister Momtaz El-Saeed is also reportedly planning to leave office and Mr Morsi is said to be under pressure to appoint a brotherhood figure to replace him.
The most dramatic resignation was that of vice-president Mahmoud Mekki, a highly respected judge who stepped down on December 22nd as Egyptians were voting in the second round of the controversial constitutional referendum.
All three men have protested interference by the brotherhood’s guidance bureau, headed by Mohamed Badie.
Egyptian diplomats, civil servants and journalists say they are under pressure from the brotherhood-dominated government to refrain from criticising Mr Morsi.
Ahram Online quoted an unnamed young diplomat who stated: “I was summoned into the office of the assistant [foreign] minister. He said we were all partners in making the Revolution a success and now we should . . . help the president to deliver [its] hopes and dreams.”
He was warned not to “confuse [his] role as a diplomat with that of an activist”. A colleague was told his opposition to Mr Morsi would harm his career while another was told the foreign ministry was being “dis- loyal” due to postings on its Facebook page criticising Mr Morsi’s decisions as being detrimental to Egypt’s interests. His rush to adopt a constitution drafted by fundamentalists prompted 250 diplomats to refuse to supervise expatriate voting at embassies around the world.
Allegations by public servants confirm charges by the opposition that Mr Morsi has tried to curb freedom of speech since he took power.
Efforts to muzzle criticism of Egypt’s post-uprising military and civilian rulers initially targeted state-run radio and television channels which have been publically reprimanded by minister of information Salah Abdel-Maqsoud, a brotherhood affiliate, for joining and giving extensive coverage to opposition activities.
Key appointments in state-run media have been made by the upper house, the Shura Council, where the brotherhood and its ultra-orthodox Salafi allies hold 75 per cent of the seats. These appointments drew criticism from Reporters Without Borders which urged “respect for the independence of the state-owned media [as] one of the fundamental guarantees of freedom of information in a country that aspires to be democratic”.
While attempts to manage the media have largely failed to contain criticism of Mr Morsi and may even have exacerbated it, the media has split along pro and anti-brotherhood lines, reflecting the bitter political polarisation in the country.