Islamists in Governments

Arab Spring and overthrow of autocratic regimes in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya has heralded the democratic era in the three states. Islamists having been the leading opponents of the erstwhile regimes were generally seen as the main alternative. Consequently, they have won scrapethrough to modest majorities in the three countries. The past rulers have left no stable institutions
or established conventions for the new dispensation to follow or look up to. Military—in case of Egypt and Tunisia—is the only established remnant of the past and is not expected to cooperate tolerate any substantial whittling down of its clout in governance. In case of Libya, the new rulers represent the rebels who have reached the seat of power after defeating the army. Jockeying for power and struggle for clout is therefore expected to the be main challenges that new rulers will have to contend with. The task of dissuading the armed forces to keep away from power will be an uphill task. Some hint of it is already available from Egypt where the Court has annulled the elections of the national Parliament. Having tasted the loaves and fishes of power by being in cahoots of despots in the past, the military is not expected to forsake its claim on the governance.

It is now for Islamists to lay down a trajectory whereby people’s mandate will have to be transformed into official policies. Any conflict between the Islamists and the armed forces is all likely to betray the people and destroy the credibility of the nascent democratic systems. It is therefore imperative that the new dispensation keeps the people and their issues at the heart of their agenda and does not fall a victim to pet themes of Islamisation. The Islamists will have to turn their attention to the basic necessities of the people like food, fuel, education, health and social security and some quality of life. Shutting down bars, discotheques, interest-based
banks and red light districts or censoring films and books for obscenity will not help the matters in ensuring the general welfare of the masses. People are looking for solution to their daily needs, not the high-sounding ideals. Islamists would therefore need to be pragmatic and chalk out an action plan to make the executive deliver on their needs. Coming down on corruption is all likely to win them huge favour from the people. They need to move gradually to restore rule of the law, make the executive responsible and accountable and turn the focus of judiciary towards administering justice rather than poking its nose in the governance. They are therefore called upon to exercise great patience, forbearance and caution in moving ahead.

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