He should be tried for treason, for he took an oath, both as a
military officer and a president, to protect the people of this country
and its assets, and everything he should have worked for he has
Pro Democracy Activist
President Hosni Mubarak ruled Egypt for 30 years, reviled — as Egypt’s modern-day pharaoh, and served longer than any contemporary Egyptian leader since Muhammad Ali, the founder of the modern state of Egypt. Like the Pharaoh of ancient Egypt, President Mubarak is said to have possessed the power of life and death throughout his reign.
In an Egypt youth led revolution that was determined to make history, “the Egyptian public, Egyptian political and military leaders, and American officials all expected him (Mubarak) to say he was handing over power. But he apparently could not bring himself to say so, clinging to his vision of himself as a reluctant leader tapped by fate to lead a nation that could not survive without his guiding hand” (The New York Times).
During the reign of the 82 year old President, life grew harder for the people of Egypt, the gap between the rich and the poor grew wider, police state stifled opposition, competing ideas and ideologies, ‘politics became less important to citizens and common demands for freedom, democracy, social justice, rule of law and economic equality’ gained prominence. Free election was made difficult, the state media was manipulated, and the idea of integration was alien to the President.
“Stability to many Egyptians came to mean stagnation, as the economy grew and so did the number of people living in poverty. Where once the rich, poor and middle class lived in the same neighbourhoods, the wealthy later retreated to walled compounds of grass yards and swimming pools, while Mr. Mubarak’s government struggled even to keep the streets clean of trash” (TMYT). It was against this background that the “Tahrir Square Revolution” struck with vengeance. After 18 days of determined protest, 850 lost lives and 6,000 wounded, President Mubarak gave in to the demands of his people and stepped down on Friday 11 February 2011.
On Wednesday 3rd August 2011, the 83 year old President Mubarak went on trial in a court setting at the Police Academy, Cairo, charged with corruption and premeditated murder. The President was flown in from Sharm el-Sheikh and wheeled into a cage of a court room on a hospital bed. He is standing trial with his sons Gamal and Alaa who themselves have been in detention since April 2011 in prison clothing, and the former interior minister, Mr Habib El Adly and six police commanders. Mr Habib El Adly is already serving a 12 year jail sentence for profiteering and money laundering and is under court order to refund the sum of 14 Million Egyptian pounds ($2.3 million). More than 1,000 police and soldiers secured the court complex during the first day of the trial (Aljazeera).
President Mubarak is formerly charged with four counts of (a) conspiracy to kill protesters during the “Tahrir Square Revolution”; (b) inciting police officers to fire live ammunition on protestors and attacking them with moving vehicles; and (c) corruption charges that as the president, he held on to four villas and other real estate in Sharm el-Sheikh, gave to close business associate, Mr Hussein Salem, millions of square metres of state owned land, and that he conspired with the former oil minister to hand Mr Salem $2 billion worth of profit from a gas deal.
This is a familiar story across governance in Africa. However, President Mubarak’s trial has set a great precedent in the history of Africa and the region and a lesson for the future. Many corrupt government officials in Egypt and indeed the rest of Africa will fear the likelihood of this moment forever. Some argue that President Mubarak should be charged with treason, for as the president and a military officer, he took an oath to protect the people and assets of Egypt. Instead he worked against his oath of office (Ahmed Naguib, Pro-Democracy Activist).
Some analysts consider the trial an immense symbolic and historic value but the question the success of the revolution since only the head of the regime has been removed leaving its security apparatus and the President’s cronies intact, the economic and social conditions are still very poor, and the Supreme Military Council has still not given a firm date for the elections and for the constitutional amendment.
Securing conviction will be challenging for the prosecution for a number of reasons; “the number of defenders are quite significant and one wonders how they were chosen because the charges can easily be levelled at their colleagues (2) the linking of the charges with the President, his sons and the officers; (3) the nature of the accusations themselves –on one hand the killing of the demonstrators at Tahrir Square, then we have the embezzlement of public funds and then we have export of gas to Israel. So there are quite a few things that are put into the mix… and it will take quite a lot of legal handiwork in order to disentangle this nut” (Professor Daniel Newman). There may be some convictions but whether the President will be among the convicts is a question that only the Gods can answer.
The question now is, can the Egypt/Mubarak trial experience repeat itself in other African countries? Whatever your views on this question, one thing remains certain. Egypt has set a standard for the rest of Africa to follow – a scenario that no African leader, or high ranking civil servant, can claim immune from for rest of his/her natural life or even after death.