In the Middle-East
Chilean politicians visit Egypt to aid transition to democracy
The Chileans played an important part in their country’s peaceful move to democratic rule 20 years ago, and have been drafted in to provide their expertise in Egypt.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
The West welcomed an opening for democracy in Egypt and Bitar said he felt the worries about who could fill the void left by Mubarak are in many cases unwarranted.
As Egypt negotiates its new-found freedom following the toppling of President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year dictatorship, two prominent Chilean politicians were called upon to offer support and expertise.
Sergio Bitar and Genaro Arriagada, who held cabinet-level positions during the end of military rule in Chile 20 years ago, were invited to Cairo due the roles they played during the Chile’s peaceful transition to democracy.
Chile has become a model of social, economic and political stability following its difficult history. On his recent visit to Santiago, US President Barack Obama said: “Chile shows that, yes, it is possible to transition from dictatorship to democracy - and to do so peacefully.”
“We spoke on a number of issues: how to deal with the military, how to form coalitions, how to select candidates for the presidency,” explained Bitar, one of the founding members of Chile's Party for Democracy (PPD), in an interview with Chilean newspaper The Santiago Times.
While the West generally welcomed an opening for democracy in Egypt, Bitar said he felt the worries expressed by some leaders about who could fill the void left by Mubarak are in many cases unwarranted.
“My conversations with Egyptian political leaders and the social forces in Cairo have convinced me that there are favorable conditions in Egpyt for a process of democratization with civic and secular foundations,” he told Spanish newspaper El Pais.
The two politicians visited Egypt under a program of the National Democratic Institute (NDI), a non-profit organization based in the United States which works on promoting democratic practices around the world. The organization, formed in 1983, was also present in Chile during Chile’s 1988 “No” plebiscite that brought Pinochet's military rule to an end.
The trip, according to Bitar, was felt to be a success by all and the White House has already requested the politicians’ presence in Bahrain.