Scenarios for elections and civil unrest in restless Egypt

Egypt's presidential elections are set to be held on 23 May 2012, with a run-off round on June 16-17. According to Exclusive Analysis, a specialist intelligence firm based in the UK, Firas Abi Ali - who is Deputy Head of Middle East Forecasting for the firm - said in a note to clients, “No candidate is likely to win elections in the first round.” He continued, “A key indicator of the level of civil unrest risks stemming from the election is the 2 June scheduled verdict for President Mubarak's trial. In the unlikely event that Mubarak is acquitted, there would be an increased risk of mass civil unrest disrupting the elections."

In the event of such turbulence, the firm forecasts that protesters in Cairo would likely attempt to break into the Ministry of Defence building at Abassiya Square and the Ministry of the Interior, as well as the public media buildings (Maspero) near Tahrir Square. In a news release, Abi Ali warned that as a result, "there would be a collateral damage risk to property and individuals in the immediate vicinity of these buildings. The police would likely use live rounds, which would lead to even more protests."

Furthermore, the forecast from the UK-based firm, noted that in Suez City, Alexandria, Daqhaliyya, and other cities, protests, road disruptions, transport workers' strikes and attacks on police stations would be very likely. However, disruption of shipping transiting the Suez Canal would be unlikely.

If Mubarak's former foreign minister Amr Moussa succeeds in reaching the second round, he would then be presented by Mubarak's allies as the 'guardian of stability,' predicted Abi Ali. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) would probably support Moussa and there would be a low probability that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) would attempt to rig elections in his favor.

If Moussa wins, widespread civil unrest would follow, declared the EA analyst. The Muslim Brotherhood would likely not join unrest, in this scenario, and would accept a deal in which the SCAF retained indirect control over government and the Army's privileges. In such an event, the Brotherhood would be weakened due to its failing to stand with protesters, while the SCAF, through Moussa, would continue to weaken the group and contain it in Parliament, preventing it from fully taking over state administrations. Abi Ali predicted that such an arrangement would be fragile and tentative, with further conflicts between the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and the Muslim Brotherhood arising over the constitution and the relative power of the president, cabinet and parliament, thus leading to further protests.

However, should Moussa fail to reach the second round, says EA, then it would likely be a confrontation between former Muslim Brotherhood member Abdul Mon'em Abul Futuh, and the Brotherhood's official candidate, Mohammad Morsi. Said EA analyst Abi Ali, "A large bloc of voters, together with the SCAF, would probably seek to avoid giving the Brotherhood control over both Parliament and the Presidency, raising Abul Futuh's chances.”

Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.


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