This House believes the Egyptian military is not interested in genuine reform

Wednesday October 26 2011
Cairo, Egypt

MOTION PASSED by 85% to 15%


This House believes the Egyptian military is not interested in genuine reform

Cairo, Egypt. October 27th, 2011. A noisy, argumentative group of young Egyptians last night used a public forum in Cairo to voice scepticism about their military rulers, claiming they're not interested in genuine reform.

The session kicked off the eighth series of the award-winning Doha Debates, a month before Egyptians are due to vote in their first parliamentary elections since the Mubarak regime was ousted in February.

Nearly 85 percent of the mainly-student audience signaled their disbelief in the army's reformist credentials, many citing reports of maltreatment in military prisons, interference with the media and unfair trials of civilians.

But retired General and former diplomat Sameh Seif-Elyazal rejected the charges, saying "people gave the army the right to take power. Seventy percent of what they are doing is right."

The debate took place in a private TV studio, after the Egyptian government suddenly withdrew formal, written permission to film in the old city. Attempts to film at Cairo's well-known Marriott Hotel brought a similar refusal on the grounds that television equipment "would damage the building".

The Doha Debates Chairman Sebastian told the audience..."it seems that someone didn't want this event to take place."

In fact the discussion was widely covered by local press and TV reporters, who heard repeated criticism of the military and their apparent reluctance to name a deadline for the return of full civilian rule.

A number of those attacks came from Heba Mourayef, researcher at Human Rights Watch, who declared the army knew nothing about "the rule of law" and was planning to stay in power till June 2013. "This is what really scares us most," she added.

But General Seif-ElYazal insisted the army had no wish to stay in power longer than necessary. His fellow panelist Dr. Gamal Abdel Gawad Sultan rejected suggestions that the current situation was a repeat of 1952, when the army took control of the country, promised a swift return to civilian rule and stayed in power for six decades.

"This is not the same at all," he added.

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