Maui News

Lanai Student in Oman Reacts to Power Shift in Egypt

February 11, 2011, 9:55 AM HST
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By Wendy Osher

Lanai resident, Richard Gima in his travels through the Middle East.

Lanai resident, and middle eastern studies student, Richard Gima responded the news of Egypt’s shift in power today with joy.

Gima, who was evacuated from American University in Cairo to Oman earlier this month, learned of the resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak over dinner when the news broke on national television.

Gima says he hopes to return to Cairo to continue his studies as tensions settle, constitutional changes are made, and a transition to elected rule takes shape.

“I’m really ecstatic for the Egyptian people,” said Gima in an exclusive interview on Pacific Radio Group’s  Maui Breakfast Club radio show on KNUI AM 900.

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“I’m really glad that he finally decided to step down.  I think it was time for him to leave, and I just find funny that he could go 30 years of corruption, and it only took 17 days to get him out,” said Gima, referring to the two-plus weeks of protests from demonstrators who had expressed frustration over poverty and allegations of government corruption under 3 decades of Mubarak’s autocratic rule.

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“I give them so much credit because… they would not back down.  I knew from the beginning that once they said we won’t leave until Mubarak resigns, I knew that they were going to stay put,” said Gima.

Gima, who has been monitoring the developments on Al Jazeera, the Arabic-language news network, said celebratory response is greatest at the heart of the conflict, and not as apparent in Oman where he is staying.

He did however acknowledge the effect of the power shift on other countries in the Middle East region.  “It will have a ripple effect, and it already has, but the degree to which things will escalate, I really don’t know,” said Gima.

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With elections scheduled in September, Gima said he sees Egypt moving towards democratic rule.

Gima is scheduled to remain in Oman through the 20th, and if things go as planned, will spend the next three-and-a-half years completing his studies in Egypt.

His dorm is located in Central Cairo and within sight of Tahrir Square, where the demonstrations began.  Gima said his family is a little apprehensive about his plans to return to Cairo though saying, “The thing that worries them the most is getting caught in the protests while going to school.”

“It’s definitely an important time for me to be there and I would hate to miss out on this history,” said Gima.

***(special thanks to hosts Tom Blackburn-Rodriguez and Kellie Pali who contributed to this report)

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