Egypt: The price of popular uprising

After holding onto power for 18 days while his people bayed for his resignation and his international friends treated him like a leper, Hosni Mubarak bowed to the inevitable and resigned his position last Friday. A huge triumph for people power even though I wonder whether anything has really changed.

After holding onto power for 18 days while his people bayed for his resignation and his international friends treated him like a leper, Hosni Mubarak bowed to the inevitable and resigned his position last Friday.

A huge triumph for people power even though I wonder whether anything has really changed.

In 1952, the Egyptian military forced King Farouk to abdicate in favour of his son Prince Ahmed Fuad.

King Fuad’s rule lasted about a year before the military once again intervened to force him off the throne and declared a republic with General Muhammed Naguib as president. 

President Naguib did not last long before Colonel Gamel Abdel Nassar, who was the real power behind the throne, overthrew him in turn. 

In 1967, following Egypt’s defeat at the hands of Israelis during the six-day war, President Nassar announced his resignation for failing his nation, which had now lost the Sinai Peninsula. 

Egyptians went to the streets to demand that he stay in power, he bowed to their demands a day later,  an interesting action given Mubarak’s recent travails.

President Nassar would die of a heart attack in 1970, whereupon his Vice-President Anwar Sadat, himself a military man, took the reins of power.

President Sadat was assassinated in 1981 and was succeeded by his Vice-President, Hosni Mubarak who was also Egypt’s

Air Chief Marshal. Now Mubarak has handed over power to the Army Council.

There is a pattern here, in Egypt it would seem that power rests with the military at all times. Let’s hope that 18 days of popular protest have not been in vain.

My concern with Mubarak’s resignation was what this would cost Rwanda. When the protests began in late January, the price of an oil barrel on the ICE Brent Crude Futures was hovering at about 90$ by the end of last week it was slightly over 100$. To put things into perspective, that’s an increase of nearly 40RWF by April. That’s a considerable increase that will have some impact on overall prices of goods, cost of electricity and the inflation rate. The news gets worse. Remember those summer fires in Russia and Ukraine that were going through their grain-growing lands? Those fires are responsible for increased prices of grains and may have played a hand in the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt as people complained about high food prices. China is experiencing a drought in the Shandong province, which normally produces a large part of its wheat. If China starts importing wheat, the prices for grains are going to get even higher. High food costs, increased prices for goods, sky-rocketing energy rates and rampant i
nflation will combine for a gloomy outlook. But then again, we get a brief advantage in the Nile Treaty negotiations now that the Egyptians are otherwise occupied.

Back home, the Rwanda National Examination Council was at the heart of a chaotic return to school for secondary school students. The story as reported in this paper is that they ‘mixed’ up the selection process. An anonymous source within the Council placed the blame on the schools who were refusing students who had placed them as anything but first choice. The Council has joined the ICT bandwagon by publishing its results online but someone forgot to create a system that can link them with the different schools during the selection. This does not bode very well for our ICT hub aspirations if students have to wait for two weeks to study because of a mix-up [no apologies or official statements were made in case you were wondering].  

I will end this with good news from Toyota who were cleared by the US Department of Transportation after a 10-month inquiry into the recalls that occurred last year. In short, if you own a Toyota or are planning to buy one, the accelerator will not get stuck and drive you into high-speed oblivion. This is even better news if you held any shares in Toyota, which jumped nearly 5% last Tuesday on the back of this news.

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