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2012年5月31日 (木)

エジプト情勢 イスラム伸長で進む「二極化」

The Yomiuri Shimbun (May. 31, 2012)
Egypt becomes polarized as Islamist forces gain clout
エジプト情勢 イスラム伸長で進む「二極化」(5月30日付・読売社説)

Islamist forces are gaining strength in Egypt. The direction of democratization in the entire Middle East will depend on whether a stable regime can be established in that country.

No candidate won a decisive majority in the first round of Egypt's presidential election, according to results announced Monday. A runoff election will be held in mid-June.

The runoff will be contested by Mohammed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist organization, who placed first in the first round with about 25 percent of the vote, and former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq, who was runner-up with about 24 percent.

The contest represents a showdown between Islamist and secular candidates. Shafiq is a former military officer who emerged as a leader under the administration of ousted President Hosni Mubarak.

The Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist parties garnered more than 70 percent of the seats contested in lower house elections held from November to January, impressively cementing their emergence in Egypt's political landscape.

In the first round of the presidential election, Islamist forces won more than 40 percent of the vote, indicating they are major political players in the post-Mubarak era.


Fierce campaign ahead

Mursi, who was a latecomer to the presidential race, finished first after pulling in votes from another Islamist candidate who had a head start. The Brotherhood apparently used its organizational might to prevent the two candidates from draining votes from each other and both going down to defeat.

Shafiq finished close behind Mursi after attracting many votes with his campaign pledge to restore public safety. He also was a magnet for voters wary of the rapid emergence of the Islamist forces.

The runoff election campaign is likely to become heated. We are concerned that Egypt could become polarized in a standoff between Islamism and secularism.

Disturbingly, Shafiq's campaign office was set on fire Monday night, hours after the election results were announced.

A lower court ruling on Mubarak is scheduled to be announced this weekend. Prosecutors have demanded capital punishment for the former president, who was charged with issuing an order to fire at antigovernment protesters. The court's ruling will likely affect the election campaign.


Gearing up for post-Mubarak era

With the growing emergence of Islamist forces in mind, the U.S. government has started building communication channels with the Muslim Brotherhood as it looks to a post-Mubarak Egypt.

Change will be unavoidable in Egypt. But as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pointed out, this change should not lead to the erosion of the rights of women and minority religious groups.

After a president is elected in the runoff, the interim rule by Egypt's Supreme Military Council is scheduled to end and power will be transferred to civilian control.

However, if polarization becomes more deeply entrenched, uncertainty will increase over whether the power transfer will proceed as expected. The biggest variable is how the military, which wields the real power, will react.

The international community--including Japan--is closely watching how Egypt, a regional power, will achieve stability and help bring democratization in the Middle East and North Africa.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 30, 2012)
(2012年5月30日01時40分  読売新聞)


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