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Published: Tuesday, 4/24/2012

Creeping democracy


Political reform in Egypt, including a new constitution and democratic presidential elections, must proceed despite resistance by the nation's military.

Egypt held lively, free, and fair parliamentary elections last year. Islamists took 70 percent of the seats, divided between the Muslim Brotherhood and more-radical Salafists.

Egyptians are writing a new constitution and will elect a new president next month. Yet since President Hosni Mubarak was deposed last year, the military has remained in control. Because it has in effect ruled the country since 1952, Egyptians are suspicious it will hand over power now.

Two developments sharpen concerns that the military will sabotage democratization. The national election commission has disqualified 10 presidential candidates. And the military has suggested that the new constitution should be in place before the president is installed, even though writing the constitution has been a chaotic process.

This issue sent tens of thousands of protesters into Cairo's Tahrir Square last week. Others were angry over the disqualifications of some candidates.

U.S. support of military rule in Egypt, signaled by a resumption of financial aid to its forces last month, is inconsistent with Washington's call for democratization without military interference. Egyptians need democracy; other Arab nations, including Syria, need to see it.

Democratization is healthy. There is no reason for the United States to assist the Egyptian military in obstructing it.

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