Cherif Bassiouni’s Message to Egyptian Protesters

Feb 09

Professor Cherif Bassiouni is one of the most distinguished of the scores of Egyptian emigres to the United States.  Professor Bassiouni is a well-respected expert in the field of international criminal law, and cares passionately for the future of Egypt.  He prepared the following brief memo as suggestions to the Egyptian protesters.  They are of course free to take those portions of his advice that they find useful, or reject it in its entirety: it is their revolution.  Our job as Egyptian emigres is merely to provide moral support and whatever technical assistance they may choose to seek from us:

1.         Keep up the peaceful demonstrations and occupation at Tahrir Square, outside Parliament and the PM’s office

2.         Maintain pressure by calling out two demonstrations each week: one on Friday after prayers, and one on Sunday midday after Christian religious services.

3.         Call upon all those working in Suez, Ismailia, and Port Said to go on a one-day strike as a symbol of solidarity. This will immobilize traffic in the canal and it will send a significant message to the world.

4.         Have the Organizational Committee select a group of 50 credible Egyptians who have achieved some degree of prominence inside and outside Egypt to constitute an Advisory Commission to the transition from a military regime to a constitutional democracy.

5.         The Advisory Commission should prepare a document similar to that of the Declaration of Independence, which would basically state the principles and goals of the revolution. The text of this document, which should, at first, be considered a draft ,should be circulated worldwide.

6.         The Organizing Committee should have a media office to deal with both Arab and foreign media.

7.         There should be a group of constitutional law and other legal experts formed to work with the movement. The movement should reach out to the Egyptian Bar Association to prepare a number of lawyers to assist those who are arrested.

8.         There should be a group working on daily documentation and recording of everything by category. This could be a computerized database, which could be kept in different local locations as well as abroad, to document government violations, provocations, government actions of various sorts, including governmental initiatives designed to convey the questionable impression that reform is on the move.

9.         Weekly demonstrations should be organized in Alexandria, Tanta, Beni-Sweif, Assiut, and Aswan.

10.       Greater effort to mobilize rural areas should be made through personal advocacy.

11.       A group of volunteers should be put together to work with lawyers and other experts in finance to make a list of all of the corrupt regime persons who have profited in illegal ways. This should include an analysis of foreign and domestic investments, transfer of funds abroad, (e.g., which bankers are involved, how did the party and other government officials facilitate the theft of Egyptian resources for personal gain, etc). It should not be expected that the Prosecutor General’s office will do that except maybe for a few token cases. The corrupt oligarchy must not evade accountability and benefit from impunity.

12.       A time table should be established to achieve the following:

a.         Establishment of a Council of Regents of the revolution, consisting of three persons of the highest level of integrity, competence, and wisdom, who are representatives of the major currents of political and social thought.

b.         The Council of Regents would appoint an acting PM who will select a cabinet to be approved by the Council of Regents and to administer the ordinary affairs of state until a new constitution is in place and a new parliament elected.

c.         The time table for the above should be 6 months.

d.         The Council of Regents should declare the suspension of the current constitution pending its amendment.

e .        The Council of Regents should dissolve the two houses of Parliament.

f.          The Council of Regents should appoint a Constitutional Commission to draft a new Constitution which is to                         be submitted to a public referendum for approval within the ensuing two months.

g.         Upon approval of the new constitution, legislative elections are to be called.

h.         After the legislative elections, presidential elections should be called.

i.          The new president will designate a PM who will form a cabinet in consultation with the president,but which                         will have to be subject to the approval of Parliament.

j.          The new Constitution should provide for Parliament’s right to withdraw confidence in the cabinet and thus

to  have a change in cabinet or its re-organization.

k.         One of the pre-conditions for participating in public political life is for those seeking public office, regardless                        of which position is sought, to relinquish any ties with the military or the police.

l.          The proposed Advisory Commission (first mentioned in paragraph four) should, as much as possible, address principle issues which concern democracy and its exercise, civil and human rights, upholding the rule of law, preserving the independence of the judiciary, and insuring social and economic justice for all. These principles should in turn, be addressed with more detail by the Constitutional Commission, (as previously mentioned in paragraph f).

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