The fear of unrest and chaos related to the results of the first round of the Egyptian Presidential election has already been realized. The offices of Ahmed Shafiq, the former Air Force General and Hosni Mubarak’s last Prime Minister, who finished second in the voting and made the runoff, burned last night.
The presidential campaign headquarters of Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister burst into flames Monday night as demonstrators marched in the streets protesting that former official’s confirmation as one of two candidates to advance to Egypt’s runoff election.
If found to be arson, the fire would be the most destructive act of election-related violence since Mr. Mubarak’s ouster as president. Interior Ministry officials said they had not yet determined the exact cause of the fire, although they arrested one person inside the building. They did not disclose the person’s identity or possible motives.
The fire broke out a few hours after the election commission confirmed on Monday that Ahmed Shafik, the former prime minister and a former air force general, will face Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in the runoff scheduled for June 16 and 17 to choose Egypt’s first freely elected president.
The protests were fairly small and scattered. I don’t know if we can say with any certainty that this was a arson. Who knows, Shafiq’s people could have burned it themselves as part of proving that the country needs the kind of order that he would provide.
The election commission’s statement on Shafiq’s eligibility for the Presidency might become another flashpoint. The majority-Muslim Brotherhood Parliament passed a law barring any Mubarak officials from serving as President. If found valid by the Supreme Constitutional Court, Shafiq would be ineligible to serve. But the election commission said on Monday that they would determine eligibility, regardless of the court’s ruling. So you could have the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate helped by a Parliamentary ruling from his own party, only to be stymied by an election commission in the hands of a former Mubarak official, helping the candidacy of another Mubarak official.
Needless to say, this is not the terrain over which the revolution in Egypt was fought.