THE military-led interim government in Egypt would be making a grave mistake if it focuses on persecuting Mohammed Morsi and his supporters instead of working on a quick return to constitutional government. Since the July 3 coup, Mr Morsi has been under arrest, the assets of 14 Muslim Brotherhood leaders have been frozen, and there are reports that the public prosecutor plans to move on complaints of ‘criminal offences’ against the ex-president. This indicates the military’s preference for a non-electoral cleansing of Egyptian politics instead of a transparent poll. Mr Morsi was his country’s first democratically elected president, though there is no doubt his rule was devoid of good governance. He made many mistakes, failed to improve the economy, and decided to concentrate powers in himself. This provided enough ammunition for action to his political opponents comprising liberals and remnants of the Hosni Mubarak regime. They had every right to express their opinion and protest. But the demonstrations took a violent turn, and this gave the military a much-needed pretext to overthrow his government.
Did the demonstrations at Tahrir Square and elsewhere reflect majority sentiments? Even if they did, there was no justification for military intervention. The interim set-up is already in the soup. The Brotherhood has refused to join the cabinet, so have two other conservative parties. The Brotherhood insists it will continue its protests till the reinstatement of the Morsi government. Such a possibility is remote, and Mr Morsi’s party too should show realism. Its leadership would be unconsciously advancing the army’s cause if it prolongs its confrontation and thus enables the military to postpone the election. In the interest of Egyptian democracy, both the army-backed government and Morsi supporters should agree on a formula for democracy’s return.