Time to stop recognising Mubarak
What is a president? At what point does someone stop being the president? These are complex questions. Who the UK government recognises as the legitimate president of a country is a sensitive matter. Do we require democracy? Well, that would stop us from dealing with many countries around the world – perhaps this would be a good thing? I’m not sure.
But there are certain things that make someone president, and a certain group of people the government. The first is the consent of the people of that country. Mubarak clearly doesn’t have this. The legitimacy he claims through Egypt’s constitution comes from rigged elections and the continued extension of emergency rule. These, surely, should not count.
With or without the support of the people, the ability to govern seems key. Around the world, there are governments who haven’t been elected, but clearly govern their countries. This is no longer true of Mubarak. As 24 hour news footage has made clear, it is the protest movements – the people of Egypt – who control the traffic, police the streets, and keep their communities safe.
It has become clear that even the army are no longer obeying Mubarak’s orders. So, in what sense is he president any more than any other Egyptian is? If Mubarak can’t rule, and doesn’t have the consent of his people, then surely there is a point at which he is just a mad old man with a gang of cronies.
And as it looks increasingly like Mubarak won’t step down under the pressure of millions, a question begins to emerge. At what point do the people of Egypt stop demanding that he steps down as president, and start setting up their own structures, organising their own elections, and ignoring this mad old man who gets his mates to agive him a fancy title?
Well, there is another way that, for now, Mubarak is president. He is still recognised as such by the international community. Despite the fact that he can’t govern, the Foreign Office deins to say he runs the government. Despite the fact that he has no power to preside, we have the audacity to say he is the president.
What happens in Egypt will depend upon the people of Egypt. And so it should. But, until this is resolved, why does our government choose to recognising this man as Egypt’s president? Surely it’s time to accept that he simply is not governing?
So, not wanting to wait for our government to de-recognise Mubarak, we’ve done what Mr Cameron says we should. We have set up a Big Society Foreign and Commonwealth Office and asked people to stop recognising Mubarak as president of Egypt. We can’t bring down this dictator – that is for the Egyptians. But we can stop doing anything to prop him up. And let’s face it, right now, he’s not president. He’s just a mad, dangerous old man with a nice house and lots of enemies.