There were presidential elections. Both candidates declared victory. The Higher Electoral Commission ruled to delay the official announcement of the results "indefinitely." Mubarak was declared brain-dead, then in a coma, then neither.
So it's great news for everyone. Both camps are celebrating: Mubarak's detractors are glad to see him die, while his fans celebrate his recovery from the brink!
Joking aside, "indecision" is the word of the week in Egypt, and none of the above seems to matter.
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I ticked the ballot, dropped it in the box, and promptly left. I wanted to get it over with as quickly as possible. I'm glad there was no finger inking. My heart wasn't in it.
Never would I have thought that casting a vote in our first presidential elections, more than a year after the revolution, would feel so uninspiring -- bitter, even.
As I've said repeatedly, Egyptians are in damage control mode, attempting to salvage the country from the vagaries of Mubarak's goons -- the political or the street variety -- and the sectarian Islamist parties, who are all putting their own interests ahead of the nation's.
In the absence of a favored candidate, the methodology of damage control suggests that we proceed by elimination: The least bad candidate wins.
Another day, another deeply damaging whistle-blowing by a former Venezuelan Supreme Tribunal magistrate. Soon after Magistrate Eladio Aponte fled the country last month and aired a terrifying amount of dirty chavista laundry on TV, his one-time colleague Luis Velásquez Alvaray (above) did him one better, releasing detailed evidence about a court system that looks more and more like a criminal conspiracy.
To paraphrase Oscar Wilde To lose one Supreme Tribunal magistrate may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two looks like carelessness.
Together, the back-to-back interviews (broadcast by the Miami-based, Venezuelan-exile owned TV channel SOiTV) paint a picture of a criminal justice system deep in bed with the Colombian Rebel Armed Forces (FARC) guerrillas, where political interference, crooked rulings, collusion with drug traffickers, and occasional contract killings, are entirely routine. The cocaine route out of Colombia, through Venezuela, and on to the U.S. and Western Europe is simply too profitable -- and the tentacles of the trade's millions have seeped into every corner of the system.
Generally speaking, women have not exactly been conspicuous among the leaders of the ethnic minorities that are at odds with the Burmese central government. But that may be changing.
In late January, a group representing the Karen, one of the biggest ethnic groups in Burma, issued a statement calling for women to be given a bigger role in the peace talks between Karen rebels and the government. "Our concerns must be brought to the negotiating table, and the abuses we have suffered must be redressed and prevented once and for all," Naw Zipporah Sein, who is the General Secretary of the Karen National Union (KNU), told me on the phone. She was speaking from a town on the Thai border. (The photo above shows a Karen girl in a refugee camp in Thailand.)
Before she was elected to that post in 2008 she served the head of the Karen Women Organization (KWO). It was under her leadership that the KWO published a widely noted 2004 report entitled "Shattering Silences," which documented 125 cases of the systematized rape and sexual abuse of women allegedly committed by Burmese military troops in Karen State over a twenty-year period. Today, despite her unprecedented leadership position in the KNU, Zipporah Sein told me that she's still unhappy with the status of Karen women. To the injury of maltreatment on the battlefield by government troops comes the insult of inadequate representation in the ruling circles of the rebel leadership.
The KNU, one of the most powerful rebel groups in Burma, has been fighting for ethnic autonomy since 1948. The government recently announced that it had concluded a cease-fire deal with them. A few days ago, however, it was none other than Zipporah Sein who called that agreement into question. The New York Times quoted her as saying that "[w]e still need to discuss the conditions."
Efforts to stop the fighting drag on. As the latest in a series of fragile ceasefire deals, the Mon ethnic group, which operates along the Thai-Burma border, announced last Wednesday that it reached "a preliminary ceasefire agreement" with Burma's pseudo-civilian government.
Similar agreements have been struck recently between the government and other ethnic rebel armies, including the Shan State Army-South, the United Wa State Army, and at least seven other armed groups. The one major exception is the continuing war between the Kachin and government troops.
PORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKUL/AFP/Getty Images
74 people dead.
It doesn't add up. Port Said's Masry soccer team won 3-1 against its long-time rival Ahly. In Port Said. It was a tough victory, one that Masry won with the support of its fans. The logical question would be, then, "Why would the Masry fans attack the minority of Ahly fans among them?"
From there on, the questions just don't stop. "Why did neither the governor of Port Said nor its security chief attend a game they both normally attend?" asked parliamentarian Mohamed Abou Hamed on live television earlier tonight. "Why were security forces barely present despite knowing that the long rivalry between the two teams had a potential for violence?"
It's true that the team rivalry is old, and that the most dedicated fans -- the Ultras, as they are known in Egypt -- don't shy from confrontation. Years ago, for instance, Ahly fans once broke into the Masry club and stole some of their trophies.
I say all this because many of the first media reports ended with a variation of the statement "soccer in Egypt has a high potential of violence." Only it doesn't. There has been the occasional violent incident, but even championship games normally end without a hiccup, or else with the most hot-headed supporters exchanging insults or, at worst, throwing things at each other. I'm not trying to defend any of that behavior, of course. But my point is -- they don't kill 74 people. Again, something just doesn't add up.
Especially when you learn that the Ultras, those organized and ultra-motivated fans, had proved since January 25 that they were the stuff revolutions were made of. The mostly Cairo-based Ahly Ultras teamed up with their counterparts from their main crosstown rivals -- Zamalek's Ultras White Knights -- and, well, gave Mubarak's goons hell. Their presence -- with the moral support they provided through their loud, sometimes funny and occasionally obscene anti-government chants, but also their courage when it came to fending off violent policemen -- could make or break a protest.
It is those same police goons who were supposed to guarantee order in the stadium tonight. (It should be noted that there has been absolutely no reform of the police since the revolution.)
Like I said. Something really doesn't add up.
The immediate flow of information proved it. Normally the stadium managers carefully control how the teams and the visiting fans are let out. This time, though, the gates were opened immediately after the game ended, and supporters were also allowed to invade the pitch -- something that almost never happens. The very scarce policemen who were present did not attempt to break up the fights.
We haven't seen crowds like this in Egypt since February 2011. Some estimates suggest they have no precedent in the country's history.
Reports, comments, tweets from marches all over Egypt seem to confirm that, and with the same excited tone: "There are so many people here I can't see the beginning or the end of the march. Protesters are young, old, walking with friends or pushing strollers - even the occasional wheelchair. It looks like the whole country has taken to the street!"
And then the speaker, or writer, invariably ends with, "I love it!"
We did a little reminiscing this morning. Given the places, the crowds, the friends, it's impossible not to be overwhelmed by memories of the 18 days of the revolution, and how we hoped, at the time, that we were on to something big. But then we hold back. Reminiscing is what you do when the job is over and, and, as circumstances remind us, it is far from being over.
Still, today is undeniably a day of remembrance. It's a day to remember how we were afraid but defied our fear nevertheless. How we discovered that unarmed protesters are stronger than riot police in full gear, and that they can even bring the gargantuan state apparatus to its knees.
To remember that last year we fought against police brutality, corruption, lack of opportunity, and the unfair distribution of rights and wealth. And that a few of our demands were met, though most have not been.
It's a day to remember our heroes and our martyrs, those who paid the ultimate price so that we can walk our streets with pride.
To remember how Egyptians were moved as we witnessed marchers around the world chanting their support, a display of global camaraderie from a world family we had forgotten during our years of dictatorial isolation. We discovered again that we belonged, and so we sent messages of solidarity to Japan, Spain, and the U.S. Occupy movement.
And it's also a day to remember how, a year ago, the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafi groups chose to stay on the sidelines. (The Muslim Brotherhood, goaded on by its youth wing, joined a few days later. The Salafi parties stuck by their lack of revolutionary principles. Until election day, that is.)
It's also a day of redemption, a moment for acknowledging errors made and affirming our will to correct them. Our chief mistake was to embrace the army. Egyptians, as members of a primarily agricultural society, once affectionately referred to it as "the army of peasants," meaning the army of the people, not the landowners. We soon discovered that the army didn't have the best interests of the revolution at heart. It soon became apparent that the military leadership, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), was determined to maintain the status quo and to allow as little change as possible. As revolutionary forces continued to pursue their cause, the army slowly began to reveal its ugly face. As early as March 9, less than a month after Mubarak was deposed, the army attacked protesters in Tahrir Square, killing, arresting, torturing and violating. It has done so repeatedly since.
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Transitions is the group blog of the Democracy Lab channel, a collaboration between Foreign Policy and the Legatum Institute.