Indonesia Seen as Better Model for Egypt`s Transition

20 Februar, 2011 | Source: Kompas Online

A dictator who has ruled for a generation with the backing of the United States is suddenly forced from office and a population keen to throw off the shackles of authoritarianism looks to embrace democracy.

Photo: An Egyptian demonstrator sits on top of a set of traffic lights in Tahrir Square in central in Cairo, on January 30, 2011, as thousands took to the streets of Egypt for the sixth consecutive day calling for the resignation of their long term President Hosni Mubarak.

Manila, As Egypt looks to shift to democracy, the experiences of the Philippines’ since the toppling of Ferdinand Marcos in 1986 and Indonesia since the overthrow of Suharto in 1998 show that, while the revolutions were all different, the transition is a bumpy and fragile process that can take decades to secure.

“What I think is important is both the Philippines but even more so Indonesia show that you can do it right, and that as you do get the reform away from an authoritarian leader of that many years... that need not go to a fundamentalist group, an extremist group,” said Bob Broadfoot of Political & Economic Risk Consultancy.

“As messy as the process is, it can take them down the road to a more democratic system.”

Indonesia is seen by many as a better model for Egypt’s transition, both as a Muslim country that has largely held extremists at bay, and because of its early progress made in developing and strengthening its economy and institutions. Both the Philippines and Indonesia have managed to move the military out of the centre of politics, a key issue for Cairo where the army allowed protesters to gather.

“Egypt has had more support from the U.S. and it’s in a key strategic position in the Middle East, so that actually makes it harder for Egypt,” said political risk consultant Kevin O’Rourke in Jakarta.

“In Indonesia the political elite was fragmented and so they agreed to hold elections. It’s different in Egypt, where Mubarak has handed over power to the military, which has never been very good at making the transition, especially in the Middle East... The key really is to have a civilian caretaker to usher in elections.”

The Philippines offers some cautionary lessons — both for Egypt and Indonesia. The peaceful “people power” overthrow of Marcos was itself revolutionary in 1986, coming before the fall of communism in Europe, but the country has failed to capitalise on its opportunities.

Source: Reuters, Editor: Jimmy Hitipeuw



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