HT This Day: June 20, 1953 -- People to decide type of Republican system: Egypt’s Gen. Naguib | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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HT This Day: June 20, 1953 -- People to decide type of Republican system: Egypt’s Gen. Naguib

ByAgencies
Jun 19, 2024 03:07 PM IST

In cutting the last ties with monarchy. Gen. Naguib has removed all chances of the provisional Regent Prince Abdel Moneim, in the event of an unexpected upheaval, becoming the supreme authority in Egypt

Cairo: The proclamation of a republic in Egypt yesterday has strengthened the country’s military movement which has now become the supreme custodian of the people.

HT This Day: June 20, 1953 -- People to decide type of Republican system: Egypt’s Gen Naguib (HT Photo)
HT This Day: June 20, 1953 -- People to decide type of Republican system: Egypt’s Gen Naguib (HT Photo)

The proclamation and the Cabinet reshuffle came at a crucial time in view of the forthcoming visit of Mr Mohammed Ali and Mr Nehru to Cairo.

Egyptian Press reports have said that the two Premiers are coming with the hope of solving the Suez Canal zone dispute between Britain and Egypt.

Diplomatic circles believe that everything is now set for a fresh conference to settle the issue.

In cutting the last ties with monarchy. Gen. Naguib has removed all chances of the provisional Regent Prince Abdel Moneim, in the event of an unexpected upheaval, becoming the supreme authority in Egypt.

Gen. Naguib, with members of the Revolutionary Council drove triumphantly to Sayedna el Hussein Mosque in the Cairo bazar area to say their Friday noon prayers.

To the accompaniment of cheers by thousands they drove in open cars from Army H.Q. to the mosque. The mosque service was broadcast.

Sheikh Abdullah el Maraghy, Director of Mosques. told the faithful: “It is a happy event that Allah should follow the blessing of the Bairam Feast with the blessing of the happy newly-born Republic. We pray to Allah that He shall extend its life, give it strength and support and look after it with His never-sleeping eye.

“ The republic has come on the lines of the Caliphate of Emir el Momneen Omar Ibn el Khattab (Islam’s second Caliph) whose Caliphate contributed greatly to laying the foundations of a sound life both spiritually and materially.

“We pray to Allah that He may bless the new republic and grant happiness to the Egyptian nation. “

Gen. Naguib’s broadcast

Gen. Naguib said in a broadcast last night that “ the new regime will be maintained throughout the three-year transitional period and the people will have the final word as to the type of republican system they desire and will elect a President of their own choosing under the new constitution.

“The revolution since its inception had aimed at the annihilation of imperialism and its supporters. On July 26 last the Revolutionary Council demanded the abdication of ex-King Farouk because he represented the cornerstone upon which imperialism rested.”

Since that date and since the dissolution of political parties the whole nation was unanimously resolved to put an end to certain reactionary elements who have exploited power derived from the monarchical system.

Under the biggest ever banner headlines and in red the Egyptian Press welcomed the proclamation.

The Revolutionary Council statement summarizes the “plight of Egypt under the rule of former Kings who acted as collaborators for an imperialist Power and obstructed the country’s progress.”

“The Egyptian people will decide the form of the republic for now there is rule of the people by the people for the people. ‘Every Egyptian can now say: I determine my own destiny’.”

Farouk’s reaction

Ex-King Farouk, who is staying at a luxury hotel in Paris, declined to comment on the proclamation.

One of his secretaries told reporters the ex-King was still studying the Cairo announcement. “ His Majesty also wants to have some idea about the reaction in the U.S.A., Britain and other countries before making a declaration,” the secretary said. He believed that if any statement were to be made it would come through Farouk’s Rome lawyer, Sgr. Carlo Damelio.

Before the proclamation, which ends one of the world’s oldest monarchies, Gen. Naguib relinquished the war portfolio to Sq/ Ldr. Abdel Latif Boghdadi, member of the Revolutionary Council, and made Maj. Abdel Hkim Amer, another member of the Council, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, a post also held by Gen. Naguib. He also brought two other top military men into his hitherto all-civilian Cabinet.

He made Lt.-Col. Gamal Abdel Nasser Vice-Premier and Minister of the Interior, with control of the police, in place of Suleiman Hafez.

Maj. Salah Salem, who has often acted as spokesman for Gen. Naguib’s regime, becomes Minister of National Guidance in place of Mohamed Fuad Galal.

Mahmoud Fawzi remains Foreign Minister.

Egypt, though remaining officially a monarchy since the deposition of Farouk, has been ruled by a congress of a 13-member army committee and a civilian Cabinet, with the reins of power firmly in the hands of Gen. Naguib himself.

In the meantime. symbols of royalty have been steadily disappearing - for instance. the removal of the word ‘ royal ‘ from the title of the Egyptian Air Force.

At the same time a 50-man constitution drafting committee has been at work on a new constitution for Egypt.

Gen. Naguib declared himself in favour of a republic in the Egyptian official journal on May 6 when in an interview he said that “as an ordinary citizen I wish to see a system of government in Egypt develop in such a way as to place all authority in the hands of the people”.

“ My personal opinion is that the monarchical system of government has decayed and is no longer fit for the age wherein we live.”

A sub-committee of 15 members of the Constitution Drafting Committee declared last April that a parliamentary republican system would be the best regime for the country, but it recommended a referendum free from martial law.

Its findings endorsed the views of a smaller technical body which studied various constitutional systems in other countries.

Other sub-committees have been reporting on questions of public freedom, citizens’ rights and other aspects.

Gen. Naguib himself appointed the Committee after abrogating the 1923 monarchist Constitution.

Farouk’s exit was accompanied by a Press campaign against the maintenance of the throne.

A recent unofficial newspaper poll of a cross-section of Egyptian opinion returned 90 per cent in favour of a republic.

Council’s decision

At a Press conference last night Maj. Salah Salem, the new Minister of National Guidance, said: “ We officers of the Army, Revolutionary Council have reconsidered the situation in the light of the latest factual developments and have drawn a new, complete system of government during the transition period in order to lay a solid foundation for absolute stability.

“ We proclaim the abolition of the monarchy and the deposing of infant King Ahmed Faud II and the end of the Mohammed Aly dynasty.

“We proclaim a republic with Gen. Mohammed Naguib as President.

“He will retain all his powers under the provisional constitution during the transition period.

“ But I would like to make it quite clear that the last word regarding republican rule - whether a presidential or parliamentary system - shall be subject to a popular referendum after the completion of the drafting of a new constitution and the return to parliamentary life.

“ The people will also have the right to elect a President.

“ The present appointment of Gen. Naguib as President is natural because he is the leader of the revolution.

“ The situation has compelled us to include a number of officers in the Government while maintaining their position in the Army Revolutionary Council.”

There would be no change in the foreign policy - “except that we are now in a better position to handle our foreign policy”.

“ We shall certainly move faster towards achieving our national aspirations,” he added.

The main reason for the new constitutional changes was to “maintain real and firm co-operation between the army, the Revolutionary Council and the Cabinet.”

New commander-in-chief

Maj. Abdel Hakim Amer, new Commander-in-Chief of the Egyptian Armed Forces, has been promoted Major-General.

This is the first and only promotion of an officer of the Revolutionary Council since the coup d’état last July. Amer who is 33 is the youngest C.-in-C. ever in Egypt and the Middle East - and probably the world.

The Revolutionary Council declared in a proclamation later at night: “In the name of the people we have ended the royal dynasty of Mohammed Aly and proclaim a republic from tonight. Gen. Naguib has assumed full presidential powers.

Maj. Salem said the provisional constitution proclaimed in February of this year would remain in force during the transitional period until a new constitution was drafted.

Five civilian Ministers have submitted their resignations from the former government.

They are: Suleiman Hafez, Vice Premier and Minister of the Interior; Murad Fahmy, Minister of Public Works; Dr Hussein Abu Zed, Minister of Communications; Mohammed Fuad Galal, Minister of National Guidance, and Dr Sabry Mansour, Minister of Supply.

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