A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Reports Mubarak to Ask for Amnesty Provoking Debate

Sorry to be so Egypt-heavy,. but actual developments are occurring there, while Syria and Yemen right now are mostly ongoing body counts. A press report saying that ousted Egyptian President Husni Mubarak will is preparing a statement to be broadcast on television in which he will apologize to the Egyptian people for mistakes he may have made, offer to tranafer his wealth to the state, and ask that the ruling Armed Forces Council grant him and his family amnesty, is provoking debate in Egypt. The report, which originated with the independent newspaper Al-Shorouq, has not been confirmed, but it has been picked up elsewhere and is spurring debate, with some insisting that the Army Council cannot grant him amnesty.

The 83-year old ex-President and his wife have been detained and interrogated and Mrs. Mubarak has reportedly turned over several million dollars. It is also believed that Gulf states are pressuring the Council to grant the Mubaraks amnesty. But many of those who lost family in the uprising (over 800 acknowledged dead) appear determined to punish the ex-President.

Personally I would prefer to see a national reconciliation process like that in post-apartheid South Africa, rather than show trials and punshment (after seizure and returnof misappropriated funds). But, of course, no one is asking me, and I understand feelings are running high.

As to the legality of an amnesty, I'm no expert on Egyptian law, but the constitutional status is in a sort of limbo right now. Does the constitutional Presidential pardon power inhere in the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces in the absence of a President? Or perhaps the Cabinet? Or is it suspended until a new President is elected later this year? I don't know and I doubt if anyone does, short of a court case.

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