Interim Egyptian President Adly Mansour, who presently holds the highest constitutional power in the country, went to vote in the presidential elections on Monday as if he were any other Egyptian citizen. Elsewhere, many are calling for Egyptians to boycott the presidential polls which have been extended for a third day on Wednesday, not least Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi from Qatar. He famously described these elections as a “crime” and an “injustice,” saying that this represents the end of the era of shura (consultation), freedom and democracy, as if the era of Muslim Brotherhood president Mohamed Mursi exemplified these principles!
The image of Adly Mansour voting in the elections reminded me of that of former Sudanese President Abdel Rahman Swar Al-Dahab leaving the presidential palace in Khartoum in 1986. This act—surrendering power to the elected government of Al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi—was the height of shura, freedom and democracy. Also this week, Lebanese president Michel Suleiman vacated the Baabda presidential palace in Beirut, returning to his seaside hometown of Amsheet. This also reflects his commitment to the principles of shura, freedom and democracy. At the same time, Suleiman did not hesitate to come out to call on Lebanon’s lawmakers to elect a president as soon as possible, so that the presidential palace does not remain vacant for too long.
There is a kind of state of unintentional injustice that governs the fate of “interim” presidents. People think that they come and go without actually ruling or achieving anything. But Adly Mansour has been truly presidential in every sense of the word. His statements and decisions have been exemplary, characterized by fairness and justice. He has truly embodied the idea of shura, freedom and democracy. He also did not change his own view that the law is the most important thing—whether personally in his own life or for Egypt’s future development.
He did not incite the situation or issue accusations. He did not criticize or condemn the Egyptian people for not submitting to his views or opinions. During his short time in office, Adly Mansour balanced the scales of justice. He paved the way for Egypt to make its choice, rather than making freedom of choice a crime.
Of course, this is not the opinion of many of those who criticized Mansour, including Qaradawi. But shura, freedom and democracy have only one true end result, and that is freedom of choice. In fact, if this were not the case, Egypt would have saved itself from the Mursi era and the painful repercussions it had on the country.
Egyptians were living through an era of exaggerated rhetoric and hyperbole. Although Egypt’s streets and squares represent a true expression of the general public’s feelings, this does not necessarily result in good governance and statesmanship. We hope that the era of stability has now begun. We hope that calm is restored to Egypt. We hope that Egypt liberates itself from the language of incitement, division, anger and revenge and moves towards shura, freedom and democracy. We want to see those who promote these principles appear on the scene—they will not follow a course of revenge or incitement, but rather seek to return the country to its rightful place.
So let us bid farewell to Adly Mansour. He was a model interim president.