World·In Depth

Egypt's road to democracy

An overview of the democratic revolution in Egypt that ousted Hosni Mubarak.


  • Muslim Brotherhood's Mohammed Morsi wins presidency.
  • Military makes interim constitutional declaration that limits power of incoming president.
  • Hosni Mubarak sentenced to life in prison, remains in coma in hospital.

Latest: Egypt's highest court insisted July 9 that its ruling that led to the dissolution of the Islamist-dominated parliament was final and binding, setting up a showdown with the country's newly elected president, Mohammed Morsi.

The announcement on state TV came a day after President Mohammed Morsi recalled the legislators, defying the powerful military's decision to dismiss parliament after the Supreme Constitutional Court ruled that a third of its members had been elected illegally.

Morsi also called for new parliamentary elections within 60 days of the adoption of a new constitution, which is not expected before late this year. The generals who make up the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces held an "emergency meeting" soon after the president's decision was announced July 8, but issued no statement.

Egypt one year after the uprising

Election Process

Lower House: Final results on Jan. 21, 2012, showed that Islamist parties won nearly three-quarters of the seats in parliament, according to election officials and political groups. In the vote for the lower house of parliament, a coalition led by the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood, won 47 per cent, or 235 seats in the 498-seat parliament. The ultra-conservative Al-Nour Party was second with 25 per cent, or 125 seats.

The parliament has severe limitations on it, imposed by the military, which took power after Mubarak's Feb. 11 fall.

Upper House: Elections to the upper house, the 270-seat Shura Council, were held between Jan. 29 and March 11, 2012.

President: On May 25, results showed that Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi and former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq won the top two spots in the first round.  Morsi moved into the office once occupied by ousted leader Hosni Mubarak and started consultations June 25 on forming his team and a new government.

The military announced a "constitutional declaration" in June 17, giving itself legislative powers and stripping Morsi of much of his presidential authority. In a rush of decrees shortly before formally handing over power to Morsi on June 30, the generals also took control over the process of drafting a new constitution and the national budget.

The first round of voting for Egypt's next president took place in late May, 2012. A court decision June 14 dissolved the Islamist-dominated parliament and allowed Ahmed Shafiq to stay in the presidential runoff. The Muslim Brotherhood claimed June 18 that its candidate, Mohammed Morsi, had defeated Ahmed Shafiq, Hosni Mubarak's last prime minister. But the next day, a campaign spokesman for Shafiq countered the claim, saying Shafiq won 51.5 per cent of the vote and setting the stage for a divisive fight for the leadership. The official results were announced June 24 after a delay by the ruling military, and the win by Morsi was confirmed.

Egypt's reform leader Mohamed El Baradei pulled out of the country's presidential race on Jan. 21 to protest the military's failure to put the country on the path to democracy. The 69-year-old Nobel laureate was a driving force behind the movement that forced Mubarak to step down.

How the lower-house race unfolded:

The election for the 498-seat People's Assembly (parliament's lower chamber) had three stages, with different parts of the country taking turns to vote each time.

The voting started Nov. 28, 2011, with long lines at voting stations. The two leading Islamist blocs of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists took an overwhelming 60 per cent majority of the first-round vote, a huge blow to the liberal and youthful activists who drove the uprising.

Egyptians turned out in large numbers for the second round of parliamentary elections in mid December.

Egyptians lined up in front of polling centres in nine provinces to cast their ballots starting Jan. 3, 2012, in the third and final round of the country's first parliamentary elections following the ouster of Hosni Mubarak.

Second revolution

Thousands took the streets in Egypt on May 27, 2011, in what they called a "second revolution," calling for Egypt's military rulers to speed up the pace of democratic reforms.

Protesters run from tear gas fired by riot police during clashes along a road which leads to the interior ministry, near Tahrir Square in Cairo. (Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters)

On Aug. 1, 2011, the army forcibly cleared hundreds of protesters from Cairo's Tahrir Square. The demonstrators had been camping there since July 8 in protest against the ruling military council's slow implementation of democratic reforms. They were also frustrated with the slow prosecution of security officers believed to be responsible for the deaths of nearly 900 demonstrators and the injury of thousands more.

In a concession to activists, on July 14, 2011, the country's security chief fired nearly 700 police officers in a move to cleanse the force of Mubarak loyalists.

Amnesty International criticized the military rulers in a report on Nov. 21, 2011, saying Egyptian security forces were using torture against demonstrators, and some 12,000 civilians had been tried in military trials which it called "unfair."

Protests in Tahrir Square in January 2012 were sparked by activists who accused the country's military leaders of repressive tactics. Critics said nearly 12,000 civilians who have faced military trials since Mubarak's ouster have not been afforded proper due process. Some 10,000 Egyptian protesters converged on Cairo's downtown Tahrir Square on Jan. 27, 2012, to mark the first anniversary of the "Friday of Rage," a key day in the popular uprising that ousted President Hosni Mubarak.

Fate of Mubarak

Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak seen during a meeting with Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Saltanov at the presidential palace in Cairo on Feb. 9, 2011. (Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters)

Former president Hosni Mubarak's health continues to deteriorate. The 84-year-old suffered a stroke in mid June, and while he had recovered enough to be taken off life support June 20, he remains in a coma.

Mubarak went on trial Aug. 3, 2011, in Cairo on charges of corruption and conspiring in the deadly shootings of protesters during the uprising that ousted him. The prosecution of the former Egyptian president was unprecedented in the Arab world, the first time a modern Mideast leader had been put on trial fully by his own people. Mubarak was sentenced to life in prison on June 2 for his role in the killing of protesters during the 18-day popular uprising that pushed him from power in February 2011.

Mubarak faced charges that he conspired with his former security chief and other senior police officers, "to commit premeditated murder, along with attempted murder of those who participated in the peaceful protests around Egypt." He pleaded not guilty. The prosecution had asked for the death sentence for Mubarak, usually carried out by hanging in Egypt.

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Scores of protesters filled Tahrir Square on June 3, 2012, to protest Mubarak's sentence, calling the trial a farce and saying it was too limited in its scope because the focus on just the first few days of the 2011 protests.

Officials: Also on trial in Cairo were Mubarak's sons Alaa and Gamal, and Egyptian businessman Hussein Salem, and some of Mubarak's top former security officials. His sons were acquitted and ex-internal minister Habib el-Adly was sentenced to life in prison.

Origin of Egypt's uprising

How the protests started: Demonstrators were gathered peacefully in central Cairo on Jan. 25, 2011, to demand an end to Mubarak's nearly 30 years in power and protest economic woes in the North African nation. The protests came days after Tunisian leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was forced into exile by demonstrations in his home country.

Protesters clash with police in downtown Cairo on Jan. 25, 2011, in unprecedented protests inspired by the revolt that brought down Tunisia's president. (Mohamed Abd El-Ghany/Reuters)

As crowds filled Cairo's Tahrir Square — waving Egyptian and Tunisian flags and adopting the same protest chants that had rung out in the streets of Tunis — security personnel changed tactics and the protest turned violent. Police blasted crowds with water cannons and set upon them with batons and tear gas in an attempt to clear demonstrators who were shouting "Down with Mubarak."

Demonstrations in Cairo, Alexandria and Suez resulted in dozens deaths, but an especially brutal intensification of violence on Jan. 28 and 29, 2011, brought the death toll up sharply. A fact-finding commission set up by Egypt's interim government says at least 846 people were killed during the two-week popular uprising that toppled Mubarak's longstanding rule, and more than 6,400 were injured.

What fuelled the protests: 

Anti-government protesters fill Cairo's Tahrir Square on Jan. 25, 2011. (Submitted photo)

In Egypt, discontent with life in the autocratic, police state simmered under the surface for years. But there has also been growing discontent over economic woes, poverty, unemployment, corruption and police abuses. The Tunisian experience was enough to push many young Egyptians into the streets in 2011.

"This is the first time I am protesting, but we have been a cowardly nation. We have to finally say no," said 24-year-old Ismail Syed, a hotel worker who struggles to live on a salary of roughly $50 a month, during the protests in January 2011.

End of Mubarak's rule: Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak resigned Feb. 11, 2011, and handed over power to the military, ousted by a historic 18-day wave of anti-government demonstrations by hundreds of thousands of Egyptians. The terse announcement was made live on state TV by Vice-President Omar Suleiman. Since then, Egypt has been under the leadership of the Supreme Council for the Armed Forces.

On April 10, 2011, in his first public speech since his resignation, Mubarak denied that he abused his authority to amass wealth and property. He was arrested April 13, and on May 24, Egypt's prosecutor general ordered Mubarak be put on trial.

World reaction: World leaders were quick to say that Hosni Mubarak did the right thing in stepping down and they appealed for a swift and calm transition of power. The departure of Mubarak gave rise to a number of political factions — including the Muslim Brotherhood, an entrenched Islamist group that is largely seen as the best-organized political bloc in Egypt —each hoping to mobilize support for victory in democratic elections.

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With files from The Associated Press