As Egyptians gear up for the presidential elections, Egypt observes a three-day period of “election silence” when no electioneering is allowed. But before we learn the identity of our new president, Watani would like to feature the person who has acted as Egypt’s Interim President since 4 July last year: Adly Mansour.
He was destined to become president of Egypt during one of the country’s most critical times rife with turmoil and upheaval. As Egypt’s head judge of the Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC), he was sworn in as interim president the day following the overthrow of Islamist President Muhammad Mursi after just one year in office. Mr Mursi, who was a Muslim Brother (MB), had been at the head of a regime which, even though democratically elected to power by Egyptians, effectively snuffed out all democratic practice in Egypt, and took active steps to turn the country into a fundamentalist Islamic State that would be part of a pan-world Islamic caliphate. Egyptians—some 33 million of them—took to the streets in rebellion and, supported by their armed forces, overthrew Mr Mursi and his regime on 3 July 2013.
It was thus that Mr Mansour found himself installed as head of State with no less responsibility than to peacefully steer to a safe shore a country close to civil war. Yet he had never sought power and was clearly indifferent to it. When he took the oath as President; he was a mysterious figure of whom very few had heard. It did not help that he was quite reserved and had the reticent public demeanour judges are famous for. For the majority of Egyptians, the Interim President Adly Mansour was an enigma.
When a smile matters
It was obvious Mr Mansour took his job seriously, perhaps even warily, since nothing had prepared him for it. Is it possible the burden at times became too heavy? During his first months in office Egyptians, despite a deep respect for him, called him “the man who never smiles”. The first time a smiling, no beaming, President Mansour was spotted was during a visit he paid to Pope Tawadros last January to offer his good wishes to the Copts and the Pope for Christmas. The move was a first for an Egyptian president, and was widely appreciated and applauded especially by the Copts. Ever since, he has been seen to smile more often; Egyptians could not help thinking: “Is it because his time in office is drawing to a close and he’ll be free again?” Quite possibly.
As the time went by since President Mansour took office, the public discovered a gentle, noble character and a man with great love for Egypt. Having experienced the MB who cared nothing for the country and were only concerned with Islamism, Egyptians had come to deeply appreciate a patriotic man at the helm. Mr Mansour opened up to reveal greatness of thought and eloquence of speech. The first time he spoke to the public, then every time he did so, the social media would overflow with complimentary remarks, as well as scathing comments comparing him and his predecessor Mr Mursi whom Egyptians insisted had enjoyed not a trifle of either worthy thought or elegant speech.
Adly Mansour, born on 23 December 1945, was appointed to the SCC during the Mubarak era in 1992. He was named President of the SCC on 19 May 2013 upon the retirement of previous SCC president Maher al-Beheiri. Mansour was not sworn in as President of the SCC until 4 July 2013, just a few minutes before he was also sworn in as President of the Republic.
No intention of running
Many Egyptians wished Mansour would run for the presidency. Egypt’s judges especially had repeatedly stressed that the country needed a strong president who believed in the State of law and justice, and worked towards reuniting the deeply polarised Egyptian community. Mr Mansour’s days as president, they insisted, proved beyond doubt his competence, wisdom, and patriotism. He, however, made no secret of the fact that he had no intention of running for president.
General Ali Zein al-Abdeen, Professor of Criminal Law at the Police Academy, told Watani that Adly Mansour was an experienced judge characterised by composure and good management. He has worked quietly and avoided all kinds of propaganda and media appearances. His few speeches have been solemn and written and delivered in a rich Arabic style that never fails to impress. “This is so unlike his predecessor Muhammad Mursi who gave 263 speeches and interviews in one year, every time turning more Egyptians against him,” Abdeen said
One of Mr Mansour’s greatest traits, according to General Abdeen is that he delegates responsibility and refrains from interfering with the decisions of the cabinet ministers with whom he holds regular meetings.
“Despite President Mansour’s many advantages,” Abdeen says, “it is next to impossible for him to have made a bid for the presidency because the people do not need a president at this point in time, but a national leader. They realise Egypt is at war not only on the local but on the international front, and for this purpose many seek someone like Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi.”
Lawyer Muhammad Abdel-Hadi agrees that President Mansour’s lack of interest to run for president is out of the common. He admires the President’s patriotism and constant attempts at pushing Egypt forward rather than seeking power, unlike so many political figures.
Paving the way for another president
It is hard to find someone who disapproves of Mr Mansour, as Watani found out first hand. Hanaa’ Fahmy, a housewife, said she wished that Egypt’s coming president would have the same ethics as Mr Mansour’s.
A quality control professional in her fifties, Isis Bassili, has been actively calling on social media sites for Egyptians to honour Mr Mansour whom she sees as Egypt’s first civil president, even though he was not elected. She describes him as a statesman and a man of vast legal experience who respects the Constitution and has managed the interim period with wisdom and skill. “Mansour is a man who accepted a position he never sought, only to respond to the call of duty,” Bassili said. “He is a noble man who willingly and steadily paved the road for another president.”
Essam Azmy, Chairman of the Better Life Association for Development and Care in Beni-Mazar, Minya, sees the Interim President as the perfect gentleman but, when it comes to decision-making, Azmy has his doubts. He believes Mr Mansour was right not to run for the presidency. Because of the nature of the interim period during which he took office, he could not be a ‘real’ president, rather an honorary one.
On the other hand, writer Amr Sahl wrote on Sada al-Balad website (www.el-balad.com) praising Mr Mansour for the wide acceptance he gained from Egyptians during his short period in office. “Ever since he was appointed president Mr Mansour has respected the will of the various political streams in the country. He allowed for the opposition to perform in parallel to the State not in contradiction with it.”
At the end of the day, General Abdeen’s words appear to sum it all. “President Mansour will go down in history as the man who led Egypt to a safe shore after a year of despicable MB rule.”
Who is Adly Mansour?
• Graduated from Cairo University Law School in 1967
• Earned a postgraduate degree in law in 1969 and a post graduate degree in management science in 1970, Cairo University
• Earned a degree from France’s prestigious Ecole Nationale d’Administration (ENA) in 1977
• Appointed as Assistant deputy in the State Council, Egypt’s top administrative court, in November 1970
• Held several positions in the Legislation Department of the ministries of education, higher education, social affairs, al-Azhar affairs, justice, endowments, health, and foreign affairs until 1983.
• Was legal advisor to the Saudi Ministry of Commerce from December 1983 to April 1990
• Appointed as judge in the State Council in 1984
• Appointed as deputy in the State Council in 1990
• Served as deputy Head of the State Council in February 1992
• Appointed as Deputy Chief Justice of SCC in December 1992
• Became president of the SCC on 19 May 2013
• Was sworn in as Egypt’s Interim President on 4 July 2013
21 May 2014