Nearly a year after Egyptians took to the streets in an uprising that led to the overthrow of president Hosni Mubarak, it is time for the army to return to barracks and have nothing more to do with the running of the country, the writer Ahdaf Soueif said at a panel discussion in London last night.
"Everybody should stop making excuses for SCAF", said Soueif, who was taking part in a discussion focusing on what comes next after a year of military rule. "They have had an opportunity every minute of every day since 11 February and they have abused it."
A counter revolution has been going on since then, said Soueif, adding it has been getting more critical as time goes on because somebody has to win.
"So you get more people killed on the streets, or more eyes taken out", said Soueif, who argued that the military rulers are resorting to the same "menu of oppression" as was used by the Mubarak regime, and that their tactics are becoming even more brutal.
The author's determination that the military should hand over power contrasts with the cautious hope she felt back in February and March last year that the military would honour their promises and seize a "historic opportunity to go down in history as a military that actually saved their country."
She had argued then that the people really had no other option, because they had failed to provide a civil alternative that was strong enough to stand up to the military and take hold of power.
"I believed that the military would honour their word that they would never attack the Egyptian people, that every person who signed up for the military forces in Egypt had to swear an oath that they would never raise their weapon in the face of an Egyptian", said Soueif, adding that it was also because the army was a part of Egyptian society and were "our brothers, our husbands and sons" that the Egyptian people decided they were going to trust them.
"But our trust was misplaced", said Soueif, who nonetheless felt that it was was significant in and of itself that in Mubarak they had got rid of the head of "a bloody and tenacious regime".
Egypt's revolutionary forces - the people on the streets and the labour movements have settled in for the long haul, said Soueif, whose memoir of the revolution is published this week.
While there are differing views as to how much faith or trust could be put in the elections that took place in recent weeks, many young people are questioning if democracy is enough to deliver the kind of society people want:
"The thoughtful among the young people in Egypt, and they are many, are actually questioning whether democracy per se is enough because it's quite clear that democracy on its own, ie going through an electoral process, is not enough. It's not enough [to ensure] governments are completely transparent and take only decisions that the people want, we see that in the UK and in the United States."
Young people are currently looking at what more can happen, said Soueif, who has a number of activists in her family, including her son Omar Robert Hamilton, her nephew Alaa Abd El-Fatah and niece Mona Saif.
"They are looking at the models of society that will be useful for the future," she said. "They are looking at Brazil, they are looking at what happened in South Africa, they are exploring structures like cooperatives, different types of unionising and syndication, they are very interested in decentralising power as much as possible."
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