With the resignation of Hosni Mubarak as the Egyptian President after almost thirty years of power, Egypt is amid a historic transition of power. Under Mubarak’s regime, Egyptians suffered from a lack of several rights, including brutal torture and detainment for political dissent, persecution for those who exercise religious freedoms, and a lack of rights for women and laborers. Since the mass demonstration began January 25th, over 300 protesters have been killed, according to Human Rights Watch. After decades of suppression, only eighteen days of mass demonstration led to a revolution for nearly eighty million Egyptians.
Mubarak appeared for a speech Thursday night to announce he would not step down before the September election, but less than 24 hours later the recently appointed Vice President Omar Suleiman announced the official resignation of Mubarak. Suleiman also announced the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces would control the affairs of the country until the election.
The Egyptian Supreme Council only meets during national emergencies and this is the first time the Council has met since the war against Israel in 1973. Members include senior Egyptian leaders, such as the Vice President and the commander of each military branch. In an attempt to restore order to the country, the Council has already made five important announcements:
- An end to the emergency rule that has been in effect for many decades.
- Commitment to all existing regional and international treaties.
- To conduct a free and fair presidential election and pass any legislative amendments needed to do so.
- A peaceful transfer of power to the winner of the election.
- Security forces will not pursue or arrest those who participated in the revolution.
Despite these key announcements, it still is not clear whether the mass demonstration will immediately end. Though, the demonstration has likely shifted from a mode of demonstration to a mode of celebration. The sole demand throughout the demonstration was for Mubarak to step down, so this reality will likely diffuse the demonstration. The video below shows the excitement of Egypt on Friday night.
Whether Egypt returns to relative stability will have a major implication for an important part of Egypt’s economy – tourism. About 11% of Egypt’s economy or $11 billion a year comes from the tourist industry. While this fact shows how the Egyptian economy is not dependent on tourism, a recession in tourism would not go without notice.
In nearby Tunisia, where tourism is also popular and a similar political revolution recently occurred, tourism has not yet recovered. This means tourism in Egypt will at least see an interruption and a slow recovery. Despite damaged tourist industries, the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt symbolize a deeper importance for people in the region to not only have fair governments with basic individual rights, but to have the courage to demand such things when they are absent.
Not even sixty days ago, both Tunisia and Egypt were living under authoritarian governments. With two countries in North Africa reforming so abruptly, the potential for a ricochet effect across North Africa and the Middle East becomes more likely. In fact, pro-democracy protests are currently underway in both Algeria and Yemen. Over 400 protesters were arrested in Algeria on Saturday.
The recent revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt only inspire and motivate the people across the region to reach for fair governments with basic individual rights. As the overwhelming power of mass demonstration becomes clearer in the region, 2011 could result with several democratic revolutions.