A new dawn

Fireworks explode as supporters of Muslim Brotherhood's president-elect Mohamed Morsy celebrate his victory at the election at Tahrir Square in Cairo June 24, 2012. (REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih)

After the announcement Sunday of the official results of the Egyptian presidential election, and Mohammad Mursi’s assertion that he would become the leader of all Egyptians, attention must turn to the country’s pressing issues.

This election has been a victory for democracy. There have been blemishes and missteps, but it cannot be forgotten that this is the first time Egypt has ever had elections as free as this. This is something to celebrate.

However, it is time for sober thinking on the part of the winner. Mursi becomes the president of 82 million Egyptians, vast numbers of whom are loyal to his opposition and consider themselves to be at loggerheads with his party.

He must therefore, first and foremost, look toward reconciliation. This must happen not only with his political opponents but, most importantly, with the military – the backbone of the Egyptian system – in order for him to be able to address the multitude of challenges that Egypt is facing.

These are challenges that involve nearly every aspect of Egyptians’ lives – problems of unemployment, economic growth and illiteracy – which have been exacerbated over the past year-and-a-half by continued protests and the political divide.

Reuniting the nation and directing the efforts of Egypt’s 82 million toward bettering their situation after years of oppression is a task of obvious magnitude, but one that must now be met head on by Mursi if the situation is to improve in the near future.

The final judgment of Mursi will be dependent on his ability to break the deadlock and to move the country forward. The whole world is watching and waiting.

The agenda must turn to improving Egypt’s economy, its inequality and its relations with foreign countries, and to showing that the rhetoric of freedom in the country was not only on paper. People now want to see if the talk was borne of conviction and not politics.

Today is a new dawn for Egypt and the manner in which the new president will proceed will decide whether the country actually moves forward.

Miscalculations from this point risk not only dragging the country into more paralysis, but potentially leading to violence that could cause further ruptures.

That Egypt has witnessed the democratic process must be lauded. It is now important that the Egyptian people see democracy to be a system that benefits them. The positivity created by the elections must be capitalized on and translated into the future.

It is vital that those who take the reins of power in Egypt do not disappoint the millions who have been on the streets for 16 months by failing to address their grievances. Every step taken from now on should be the result of sober consideration and calm calculation.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on June 25, 2012, on page 7.




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