This week, Egypt’s SCAF announced that parliamentary elections will now begin on November 28. Putting aside complaints about the repeatedly postponed, complex, and months-long election process being unleashed on a nation that has high illiteracy rates and little experience of democracy—why is Field Marshall Tantawi suddenly out shaking hands in the streets of Cairo?
In a widely circulated video on YouTube, heavily criticized by Egyptians on Twitter and Facebook, Tantawi is seen in civilian clothing and ostensibly popular on the Arab street.
Is this Tantawi testing Egypt’s political waters? Although there is speculation that the video may be several years old, it is nonetheless causing quite a stir. Egyptian state television commentators went out of their way to praise Tantawi’s appearance as that of a leader. Will he become a presidential candidate for the forthcoming elections? If so, this will be a game changer not just for Egypt, but Washington, DC, too.
To his credit, his spokespeople have denied his ambitions for political office. But we’ve heard that before from many a politician. Whatever Tantawi’s merits and potential support among the Egyptian masses, it is worth remembering that he was, for all intents and purposes, Mubarak’s man. The Egyptian revolution was to rid the country of the old guard – not to reinstate them through the ballot box.