Egypt: Mubarak Resigns, Military is in Charge
As many of you know, Vice President Omar Suleiman made the following statement Feb. 11:
“In the name of God the merciful, the compassionate, citizens, during these very difficult circumstances Egypt is going through, President Hosni Mubarak has decided to step down from the office of president of the republic and has charged the high council of the armed forces to administer the affairs of the country. May God help everybody.”
This is the clearest indication so far that the military has carried out a coup.It has been led by the Defense Minister, Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi. It is not clear at the moment if Suleiman will remain as the civilian head of an army-led government. They are apparently returning to the 1952 model of ruling the state via a council of army officers. The question now is will, and to what extent, the military will share power with the existing civilian government.
Of course, at some point, the opposition’s euphoria will subside and will renew demands for elections. The United States, while supportive of the military containing the unrest, also has a strategic need to see Egypt move toward a more pluralistic system of government.
What remains to be seen is if the military stays true to its commitment to hold elections on schedule in September. If elections are held, however, the military must have a political vehicle in place to counter opposition forces, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood. The fate of the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) thus lies in question. Without the NDP, the regime will have effectively collapsed and the military could run into greater difficulty in running the country. That is the major difference between now and the previous times the military has steppe in. While the military council will be serving as the provisional government, it will likely want to retain as much of the ruling NDP as possible and incorporate elements of the opposition to manage the transition. Sustaining its hold over power while crafting a democratic government will be the biggest challenge for the military as it tries to avoid regime change while also dealing with a potential constitutional crisis and preventing a usurpation by radical elements in the opposition.
More Trouble for Romanian Witches
Remember last month when I blogged about Romanian Witches being all upset because the government had decided to make them pay income tax on their predictions? Well, there’s more bad news in the cards for Romania’s beleaguered witches. It seems the country’s soothsayers and fortune tellers are cursing a new bill that threatens fines or even prison if their predictions don’t come true. Witches say they can’t be blamed for the failure of their tools.
“They can’t condemn witches, they should condemn the cards,” according to Queen Witch Bratara Buzea.
Superstition is a serious matter in the land of Dracula, and officials have turned to witches to help the recession-hit country collect more money and crack down on tax evasion. In January, officials changed labor laws to officially recognize the centuries-old practice as a taxable profession, prompting angry witches to dump poisonous mandrake into the Danube in an attempt to put a hex on the government. The new draft bill passed in the Senate last week. It still must be approved by a financial and labor committee and by Romania’s Chamber of Deputies, the other house of Romania’s parliament.
Bratara called the proposed bill overblown. “I will fight until my last breath for this not to be passed,” she said. Sometimes, she argued, people don’t provide their real identities, dates of birth or other personal details, which makes it impossible for a seer to make accurate predictions.
“What about when the client gives false details about themselves? We can’t be blamed for that,” she said.
The bill would also require witches to have a permit, to provide their customers with receipts and bar them from practicing near schools and churches. Now there is a very practical idea, we would not want them to get the little kids hooked on casting spells. The teachers would probably go on strike…..
Live Long and Prosper....