If Egypt is to emerge from the present crisis as a stable and responsive political system six steps must be taken without delay.
First: President Mubarak must resign immediately in favor of his Vice President Omar Suleiman and leave the country. Nothing less will satisfy the demands of the protesters and the opposition leadership. His promise not to run for re-election is an inadequate response
Second: President Suleiman should appoint new prime minister and cabinet representing as many interests as possible. The cabinet appointed earlier in the crisis by Mubarak lacks the legitimacy to manage reform.
Third: The President must empower that new leadership to govern without interference from him which means that Suleiman must adopt a different presidential role – that of a transitional head of state only. This approach could be useful in reassuring both the military, with which he has good relations, and other states who want to see an orderly transition. His remaining in this new capacity would be a sign that Egypt’s relations with key international players, the United States and Israel in particular, will not be altered in a fundamental way.
Fourth: The new prime minister and cabinet should nominate and Suleiman should appoint a new vice president. A respected but relatively non-partisan military office would be a good choice. This step would indicate that Suleiman is a temporary figure and it paves the way for his exit at the end of the transition period.
Fifth: The cabinet should schedule parliamentary elections as soon as practical. The current promise to reconsider the election results in some districts is not sufficient. This new round of voting could produce a government based on popular support with a mandate to enact real reform.
Sixth: At this point Suleiman’s role as a transitional president would be over and he should resign. If he has served effectively as chief of state he will have set an effective precedent for his successor – the vice president appointed in step two.
The precedent that this process would establish is that of dual leadership or a mixed presidential/parliamentary system in which the president is head of state and the prime minister is a real head of government. As head of state the president would remain commander-in chief and would serve as a figure of stability and unity given the probability that prime ministers and cabinets would come and go.
None of these suggestions require fundamental changes in the basic structure or processes of Egyptian politics. Everything can be accomplished within the existing framework. The changes that are necessary are in personnel and attitudes. Egypt must have a totally new group of leaders who are committed to a power sharing arrangement and to social and economic reform.