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Egypt looks at long political road ahead

By Wang Jinglie | China Daily | Updated: 2013-04-18 08:02

Egypt looks at long political road ahead

Although the retrial of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak has been delayed because the Cairo judge hearing the case withdrew on Saturday, Egypt's political divisions are clear. Both pro- and anti-Mubarak demonstrators had gathered outside the court in support of their conflicting causes.

Mubarak, 84, ruled Egypt for almost three decades until he resigned in the face of mass protests in February 2011. Before entering politics, Mubarak was a pilot officer in the Egyptian Air Force, rising to the rank of commander. He has made great contributions to Egypt's security and at one time was hailed as a "national hero".

Mubarak was appointed vice-president of Egypt in 1975, and became the president and supreme commander of the armed forces in 1981 following the assassination of the then president Anwar Sadat.

During his presidency, Mubarak pursued an open policy, promoted economic development and maintained political and social stability. On the diplomatic front, Egypt played an important role in Middle East affairs as a moderate country.

But the later years of Egypt's longest serving president were "sad and dreary". In August 2011, Mubarak was sentenced to life imprisonment for launching a violent crackdown on demonstrators, and from a "national hero" he became a "prisoner".

The trial of Mubarak has given Egyptians the opportunity to review their history, as Mubarak's case reflects the historical limitations of a political leader and military commander during a country's political development and social transition.

That the Cairo court accepted Mubarak's appeal against his life sentence reflects the significant changes in Egyptian society since August 2011. It shows that despite the political turmoil of the past more than two years, Egyptians in general are moving closer to building a society ruled by law, with all political forces trying to use the law as a weapon. This does not mean that Egypt has already established a modern legal system based on democratic politics. It has taken a small but important step in that direction, though.

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