samedi, 25 novembre 2017
 

STATEMENT BY PDOIS ON TUNISIA, EGYPT, BAHRAIN, YEMEN, JORDAN AND LIBYA REVOLT OR REVOLUTION ?

People’s Democratic Organisation for Independence and Socialism (Gambie)

Events of far reaching historical and political importance are taking place in North Africa in particular and the Middle East in General. Many people are claiming that a revolution is taking place which is going to consume every serving dictator on the continent and beyond. Some conceive the developments in Tunisia and Egypt as mere revolts whose impact are short-lived and do not go beyond the replacement of one executive government with another one. It is therefore important to focus on events at their moment of happening, draw lessons on their causes and possible outcomes and then map out the way forward. This is our task as a party which aims to play a major role in shaping a destiny of liberty, dignity and prosperity for the people of the continent in particular and the peoples of the world at large. Who controls power ? How is it exercised ? Whose interest does it serve ? The answers to these questions determine the type of state. History teaches that Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen have the same evolutionary pattern of political development. The Kingdoms of Jordan, Morocco and Bahrain also share the same system of Government. The struggle for self determination and Independence against the French triumphed in 1956 but Tunisia became a Monarchy under Lamine Bey of the Husainid Dynasty. The struggle for Self Determination however did not stop there. In 1957, the Nationalist forces under the leadership of Habib Bourguiba overthrew the monarchy and established a Republic on 25 July 1957. Instead of proceeding to establish the rule of the sovereign people the pioneers of the struggle against the monarchy for a Republic established their own rule which was Republican in name but monarchical in deed. Hence Bourguiba ruled Tunisia until 1987 when infirmity compelled zine El Abidine Ben Ali to take over and establish his own quasi Monarchical rule. A middle class developed in Tunisia which increasingly recognised the control of both power and resources by a few ; who suppressed all discontent with an iron hand and who could no longer give them the hope of greater prosperity.

This growth of the army of the unemployed middle class who’s every manifestation of dissent was suppressed constituted the powder keg that had the potential to explode once ignited. In Tunisia what ignited the powder keg was the maltreatment of a frustrated street Vendor, who was three years old when Ben Ali took over in 1987, by a female municipal staff. Mohamed Bouazizi saw the confiscation of his commodities as the last straw which broke the camel’s back. Hence on 17 December 2010 he set himself on fire to confirm that he preferred death to life under such humiliation. This act ignited the powder Keg of revolt among the middle class who began their protests against political, economic and social marginalization. Instead of calling a National Conference of stakeholders to find out what the people really want and accept their demand Ben Ali decided to refer to the activists as trouble makers bent on destabilizing the Tunisian state. He used police repression to confront the protest. This led to the closing of ranks between the middle class and the poorest of the poor. The shooting of the activists led to the transformation of the protest movements into a revolt against constituted authority. The power of a galvanised people with the sole aim of unseating Ben Ali and his government overwhelmed the police force. The army which provides the second and final line of defence for a government considered it impossible to maintain the government by using force, as millions of people rose in open defiance of a government.

The army considered it prudent to take the side of the people and thus avoided further bloodshed and allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Hence on the 14 January 2011, Ben Ali’s 23 year old rule crumbled. He left Tunisia with his family in search of refuge abroad. A transitional arrangement was made which created a new cabinet involving some close associates of Ben Ali. This has resulted in frequent protests for their removal. A clear way forward is still not in sight. A truce however exists between the people and the army. The lesson is clear. Once the vast majority of people in a state refuse to accept one way of being ruled and the constituted authority finds it impossible to rule without killing and maiming the vast majority, a revolt to overthrow constituted authority must the end result. During such revolt the armed forces may take different sides and engage in a civil war until the side that supports the majority of people prevails and the other side is disarmed or the whole military remains intact and withdraw their support of constituted authority. The old regime is no more but the new regime is yet to be. This is what happened in both Tunisia and Egypt.

In Egypt, the monarchy functioned with a parliament until King Farouk and the condescending parliament were overthrown in 1952 and the Egyptian Republic was established on 18 June, 1953. Since then Egypt has known only Four Presidents, Mohammed Naguib, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak who took over in 1981 after Sadat was assassinated.

The 30 year old rule of Mubarak was marked by the concentration of power and wealth in the hands of his close circle of family members and associates. The protests against civil, political, economic and social marginalization in Tunisia served as a reminder to the marginalised in Egypt who began to close ranks in January 2011. By the end of January 2011 it was clear that Millions of Egyptians, from both the middleclass and the poorest of the poor were no longer ready to accept Mubarak’s continuous stay in power. They declared that Mubarak had to go. Instead of calling for a National Conference of stakeholders to prepare the ground to depart Mubarak tried to utilise the police to suppress the activists. He misread the situation which had gone beyond protest and amounted to an open revolt to topple his government. The millions overpowered the police. It was now left to the military to defend his government. The military could not suppress the millions.

Mubarak tried to fuel civil war between civilians so that the army will play the role of peace keeper and drive all the civilians off the street. This tactic could not work in the face of a revolt by the millions of Egyptians who preferred to put their religions, origins and status aside and marched as one to oust Mubarak despite all the atrocities.

The army eventually had to come to the side of the people. On 11 February 2011 the Vice President told the Egyptian people that Mubarak had accepted to step down. The revolt to topple Mubarak has succeeded. What next ? This is the question. On February 13 the revolt started to be transformed into a coup d’etat instead of a revolution to reconstitute the civil, political, social, economic and cultural life of the Egyptian people. In short, a high level Military Command dissolved the Constitution and Parliament and promised parliamentary election in September, 2011. It is important for the people of Egypt to search for the way forward. Herein lies the relevance of the proposals of those who treasure liberty dignity and prosperity for all peoples.

As the Egyptian Military tried to stabilize the country by taking over on 13 February, in Libya all indications pointed to the beginning of a protest movement against the existing state of things. The squares were initially occupied by security forces to prevent people from gathering. Eventually demonstrations in support of the government were organised in Tripoli but could not be organised successfully in Benghazi, Bayda, Dern, Tobruk and Misrata. Threats of a revolt and threats of retaliation were amplified in the public space. The changed atmosphere in Libya in particular and the greater Sub Region in general, should have motivated the Revolutionary Command Council, the local, Regional and National General People´s Congresses to meet to consider the demands of those who were planning to be in the street to protest and address the demands . It should have been clear that once protests are met with violence public outcry is bound to spread and if the atrocities persist the outcry is bound to escallate. This would ultimately culminate in revolt against constituted authority. The Libyan leadership did not want to be seen to be bowing down to pressure. Hence by 14 February 2010 thousands took to the street. Now Benghazi has become a city where the Libyan Government is undergoing a crisis of legitimacy as protestors claim to have seized control. The people have barricaded the streets to confine the movement of the security forces and there were reports of deaths from firing of high caliber ammunition. Hospitals claim to be overwhelmed by the injured and dead bodies.

History teaches that Libya was under King Idris until his overthrow on 1 September 1969 and his abdication to allow room for the emergence of a new government on 2 September 1969. Now uncertainty has gripped Libya. What is the way forward ? That is the fundamental question. Yemen was a monarchy ruled by the Hamidadddin family. Northern Yemen became a Republic in 1962 and the current President of a United Yemen was the President of Northern Yemen from 1978 up to the period of Unification. Southern Yemen also became a Republic in 1967 and the two Yemeni Republics became united in 1990. Thousands have also taken to the streets in Yemen to call for the ousting of President Saleh. Those protesting are complaining of political repression, corruption, unemployment and the centralization of power in one hand for over 30 years. The Yemeni Government has tried to distance itself from the grenade attacks on tens of thousand of protestors at the central square of the Yemini Capital Sana. Clashes between supporters and opponents of the government did not put an end to the demonstrations ; on the contrary, it is leading to revolt. What is the way forward for Yemen ? That is the question.

Bahrain and Jordan

Bahrain and Jordan however are still monarchies. The people of Bahrain have called for the resignation of the prime Minister amidst allegation of discrimination on sectarian grounds. Thousands who assembled at Pearl square continued their night Virgil thinking that the Prime Minister would be pressured to resign. However the sweeping of the square by security forces when protestors were asleep and the killing and injuring of many have ignited the fire of revolt in Bahrain. Now the monarch is accusing Shiites of having ambition to take over. The people however are not talking about the division of the country on Sectarian grounds. They are protesting against the excesses of the monarch and the brutality of the security forces. Jordan is also a monarchy. The Protest movement drew support from all sectors of society and their call is for limits to be placed on the power of the king which currently enables him to rule by decree, appoint and dismiss cabinet and parliament. Many are calling for a Constitutional monarchy which limits the power of the King and empower people to elect the Prime Minister and other representatives. The injury suffered at the hands of the supporters of the Monarchs had fueled the spirit of protest. Without meeting the demand of the people the protests could eventually fuel revolt. What then is the way forward for Jordan ? That is the question.

The Way Forward

It is very clear that when the vast majority of people in a country are no longer ready to be ruled in the old way and the governments are not willing to rule in a new way revolt against constituted authority becomes in evitable. It is therefore necessary for those governments which do not want to be overthrown through revolt to read the writings on the wall and call for National Conferences of all stakeholders to draw up a new compact for political reform. Those countries where the regimes have already been overthrown, like Tunisia and Egypt should move towards the consolidation of the sovereignty of the people so as not to return to the concentration of wealth and power in few hands. They should demand for the immediate convening of a national conference of all stakeholders representing all sectors of Egyptian and Tunisian societies to discuss the future of the two countries. The National Conference should be charged with the responsibility of selecting people who would constitute a transitional government, which will be charged with the responsibility of releasing political prisoners, opening up the National media to divergent views, restoring civil liberties, stabilizing the economy and preparing the ground for free and fair elections. The National Conference would be given the mandate to consult all sectors of society to come up with a draft Republican Constitution that will be subjected to a referendum along with the election of new representatives who will govern in accordance with such constitution. Countries like Libya, Yemen and Algeria should also call for a National Conference of all stake holders to make recommendations on how the countries should be reconstituted. The leadership of such countries should endorse and implement the demands of the people. Monarchies like Bahrain and Jordan should join the ceremonial monarchs of Europe until their people are ready to put the monarchical system as a whole into the dustbin of history. They should convene National conferences aimed at divesting the monarchs of all powers to govern and vest such powers to parliaments, cabinets and prime Ministers elected by the people.

This is the era of the sovereignty of the people. No system has a future which does not aim to safeguard the sovereignty of the people and ensure the fullest realisation of their civil, political, economic, social, cultural and ecological rights. This is the verdict of political and historical science and it is irrevocable. The second phase of the struggle for self determination and Independence has dawned .It is the phase to assert the sovereignty of the people. The era of the sovereignty of the people is finally here.

Forward with the Democratic Republics

Down with Monarchies and all monarchical tendencies in government

Forward with the Sovereignty of the people

The Future belongs to the people

 
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