Koert Debeuf Column

Out Of The Crisis With An Egyptian Triumvirate? An Outsider’s Perspective. (Column)

7R Egypt's presidential frontrunners from left to right Ahmed Shafiq,Hamdeen Sabbahi, Amr Moussa, Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh and Mohamed Morsi Photo Al-Ahram

Egypt’s presidential frontrunners from left to right: Ahmed Shafiq,Hamdeen Sabbahi, Amr Moussa, Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh and Mohamed Morsi (Photo Al-Ahram)

A triumvirate is a political system in which the leadership is given to three dominating political figures. During history it has been used in times of major crises, to solve major problems and lead the state to a new era. The most known triumvirate in ancient times was the one of Caesar in Rome, where it was made to balance powers and to bridge a difficult period. Also famous was the triumvirate in France by Napoleon (1795-1799) in order to safeguard the French revolution. Another well known modern one existed in the Netherlands in 1561, where it was installed to guarantee the civil and religious liberties.

In the current situation of Egypt, a triumvirate could also be the solution. Egypt lives through a major crisis, and it looks for a guarantee for civil and religious liberties and wants to safeguard the revolution. How could this triumvirate work in practice?

  1. Before the elections (preferably this weekend) the main presidential candidates Morsi, Sabahy and Aboul Fotouh agree to form a triumvirate (or presidential three-mans-council) in order to face the elections of 16-17 June together. It is very important to ask for a mandate through elections. Any other option would be a major setback for democracy.
  2. If they win, they agree to work together for the next four years in this triumvirate. They need enough time in order to be able to make the necessary changes and reforms.
  3. They will be equal in hierarchy.
  4. They will have clear separated competences that comprise and divide all executive powers, but decisions will be taken together.
  5. The division in large could be the following:

– President 1 will be responsible for the reform of everything which lies in the competences of social, economic, cultural and education affairs. He will lead the government.

– President 2 will be responsible for the writing of the Constitution. He will lead the Constitutional Committee. He will also be responsible for the reforms of the Ministry of Interior. He will be responsible for civil and religious liberties.

– President 3 will be responsible for anything which is foreign affairs and defence, for the relationship with the military and for the reform of the judiciary system.

  1. They agree to balance the composition of the government and the Constitutional Committee with all the groups that exist in Egypt.

Sometimes history can be useful to find creative solutions. But of course, it’s just an idea from an outsider’s perspective.

by Koert Debeuf

FLI Koert Debeuf PortretKoert Debeuf lives in Cairo, Egypt, where he represented the EU parliament’s Alde group for many years. Currently he is Project Coordinator “World Leaders on Transitions towards Democracy” at International IDEA. He is a former advisor of a Belgian prime minister. Reporting from post-revolutionary Egypt, his columns are a window on events in the Arab world. Koert Debeuf is also author of ‘Inside the Arab Revolution’.

For more columns of Koert Debeuf, click here.

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