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Egypt – Speedy return to democracy is a must

18 July, 2013Egypt is currently deeply divided and the path forward is profoundly uncertain. IndustriALL Global Union firmly believes that Egypt’s military must quickly get out of politics and allow a speedy return to democracy under a constitution that ensures the fundamental rights of all.

Following mass protests which began on 30 June and the biggest demonstrations in Egypt's history with more than 30 million citizens taking to the streets, Egypt’s military intervened on 3 July to remove the elected President Mohamed Morsi from office with promises of a new political roadmap and a quick transition back to a civilian government.

While Western news sources largely describe events as a military coup, secular democratic forces within the country, including the independent trade unions, have loudly proclaimed it to be a popular uprising.

Along with the severe economic and financial situation, the new government is faced with an increasingly alarming security situation as they try to steer the country towards a quick return to civilian rule.

Despite this there are some signs which have potential to accelerate a return to democratic rule. The country's newly-appointed Cabinet has been recently sworn in. The global union movement considers encouraging the appointment of Kamal Abu Aita, the former president of the Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions (EFITU) as Labour and Manpower Minister. Another important labour-related Ministry of Solidarity and Social Protection has been given to well-known Ahmad El-Borei. There is a hope in the union movement that these two appointments, amongst 33 ministerial positions announced should be a signal to combat mounting poverty and unemployment.

Meanwhile in violence ridden North Sinai province at least three people were killed and 17 wounded on 14 July when suspected militants used rocket-propelled grenades to attack a bus carrying workers employed at a cement factory. The bus was fired on in the city of El Arish. The attack has been strongly criticized by the independent trade union movement and related organisations.

“Egypt is a critically important country in the region,” said IndustriALL Global Union’s General Secretary Jyrki Raina:

We are very much looking forward to a peaceful and democratic environment whereby citizens, particularly workers can freely exercise their fundamental rights. Our global union will continue to support democratic, free and independent trade unions in the country as the backbone of the civil society.