Chief justice Adly Mansour is sworn in as interim president the day after Mohamed Morsi is ousted (Getty)
Among Egyptians of all political stripes, there is a pervading conviction that talented and top-notch specialists who know their jobs well can help fix the nation’s myriad problems. The interim government installed by the military after the overthrow of Mohamed Morsi’s Islamist-dominated government has begun a flurry of appointments of so-called technocrats to key government posts.
It has appointed economist Hazem Beblawi as prime minister and named another noted economist, Ahmed Galal, as finance minister. It has begun assembling a constituent assembly that will be filled with experienced judges and legal experts. Mohamed ElBaradei, the former UN nuclear chief and Nobel laureate, has been sworn in as a vice-president for foreign affairs.
But the belief that a government of competent, cleverly-placed and politically neutral technocrats can solve problems as deeply entrenched as those Egypt faces is at best questionable and at worst fantasy.
For all the more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger protestations, this coup d’état was about as retro as they come. Troops surrounded state broadcasting headquarters early on, and once the army commander had finished his televised announcement of the government’s demise, the plugs were pulled on the ruling party, silencing its TV stations.
But the choreography of this coup – ousting Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected and only Islamist president, after one year in power – was unusual.
General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the army chief of staff, mobilised extra divisions of no mean significance. As he replaced Mr Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood with a transitional government, he was flanked by the Sheikh of al-Azhar university, the leading Sunni Muslim authority, the Pope of Egypt’s sizeable Coptic Christian minority, Mohamed ElBaradei, Nobel peace laureate and leader of Egypt’s liberals, and youthful activists who brought down the army-backed dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak in 2011, the high spring of the new Arab Awakening.
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Maj. Gen. Mohammed al-Assar, left, and Maj. Gen. Mamdouh Shahin, during a press conference in Cairo on Monday, June 18. AP Photo/Sami Wahib
The Egyptian daily newspaper, al-Masr al-Youm, summed up the country’s predicament brilliantly on Monday.
“The military transfers power to the military,” read the headline.
While Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood presidential candidate, and Ahmad Shafiq, the generals’ favourite, battled it out all day, each claiming to have won the weekend presidential vote, the ruling military council had already decided who would be the real ruler: the generals themselves.