Draft articles of impeachment for Morsi now

 

Even elected leaders can lose their legitimacy. It happened in the US in 1974 with Richard Nixon.

 

In Egypt, the protests over the last few days have been astounding to watch as millions have poured into the street to demonstrate against the government — more people, by most counts, than turned out during the revolution against Mubarak in Jan/Feb 2011.  The problem now is that the president, Mohamed Morsi, was elected in (reasonably) free and fair elections one year ago; indeed, in his televised address earlier today Morsi repeatedly staked his right to remain in office on this fact.  Someone needs to lay out the case for why his actions since then abrogate that claim.

The way to do that, it seems to me, is to draft articles of impeachment.  This can be crowdsourced, though Egyptian legal scholars should take the lead in drafting them.  Here, for example, is a link to the full articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon.  One place to start is with Morsi’s attempt in November to place his policies beyond the reach of judicial review and thus, in effect, place himself above the law.  That is the moment when the democratically elected president most visibly subverted democracy.  It was followed, soon after, with a rushed draft of the new constitution being rammed through by little more than brute force.

It is too late, now, for Morsi to claim he believes in ‘constitutional legitimacy.’   He had his chance to demonstrate that faith at the end of last year when the constitution was being written and the judiciary was playing its slated role as a check and balance to executive power.  He failed.  The millions who have turned out in the streets to tell him to leave deserve to be supported by articulated legal grounds for why it is necessary in order to preserve the democratic process.

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And before I get accused of having felool tendencies, I wrote just before the second round of the presidential elections last year that faced with a choice between Mohamed Morsi and Ahmed Shafiq I would have voted for Morsi.  God knows, this is not because I have any ideological affinity for the Muslim Brotherhood.  Rather, we all knew that Shafiq was a first-order regimist whose every political instinct was anti-revolutionary and anti-democratic; the Brotherhood, by contrast, seemed to recognize that what Egypt needed most was good governance and that the way to achieve that was to build open, inclusive civic institutions.  But that is not what they believed; or, anyway, that is not how they have governed.  Now we know.

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Here is a post I wrote the week Mubarak stepped down in 2011 predicting that the Muslim Brotherhood had (inadvertently) been given an artificial monopoly over opposition by the Mubarak regime and that its internal weaknesses and contradictions would cause it to break down under the pressure of governance.  That, I think, is a pretty fair description of what we have seen happen in the last twelve months.

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Update, twelve hours later: 10.15pm (Cairo time) on 3 Jul:

It is too late now — the military made its move and foreclosed the democratic option:

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