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What next after Mubarak’s last ditch offer?

What next after Mubarak’s last ditch offer?

Mubarak said he would leave office in September. He promised to deliver political reforms, which he has studiously dodged for 30 years, in his remaining months.

February 2, 2011 12:16 by

The only group with a coordinated national network that extends to the grass roots of Egyptian society is the Muslim Brotherhood. Though it has been hammered by state security over the years, it remains a formidable force. But just how formidable is an open question. Analysts tend to put its support among the population anywhere between 20 percent and 40 percent. Actually, no one knows because there have been no free elections and reliable opinion polls to test this.

Nevertheless, the Brotherhood could mobilise masses of supporters to fill a political vacuum as opposition groups scramble to organise. That assumes the Brotherhood wants power, or at least wants it now. The group — by necessity admittedly — has learned to be patient. It has set its sights on winning over the majority Muslim population to its vision of a pluralistic, democratic and Islamist state. It may not yet feel ready for government or may not want to jump in.

The next government, in the aftermath of January’s unrest, will face some enormous hurdles and will have high expectations to meet. The potential for tripping up is big. Not only will any new government have to worry about gaining the confidence of business and creating jobs, it will also need to work out what to do in the Middle East peace process and decide what to do about a virtual blockade of Gaza that has earned Mubarak’s government opprobrium among many in Egypt and the region. That may be a job the Brotherhood will not want to take up now.

(By Edmund Blair. Editing by Myra MacDonald)

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