Sisi’s Challenge

    Egyptians seek better lives, more security

    Egypt’s new President is now firmly ensconced as the leader of the mostpopulated Arab nation in the world. He won the elections with a percentage of votes that would have been impressive, had it been supported by an equally imposing turnout. According to official figures, less than half of the voters turned up at polling stations. This has taken away some sheen from the victory of Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, the former Defence Minister who led the coup that ousted Muhammad Morsi, Egypt’s last elected President.

    The flux that followed the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak in February 2011, including the period during which Muslim Brotherhood’s Morsi was elected and later deposed as President, led to a worsening socio-economic situation in Egypt. The stability that the new regime promises may well have got it many votes. An unprecedented extending of the voting period by a day certainly helped, even as it chipped away at the credibility of the electoral processes in which the only opponent who stood against Sisi, the labor activist Hamdeen Sabahi, got barely 3.5 per cent of the votes.

    The military which he once headed is firmly behind him. However, Sisi now has to move on the economic front. Foreign direct investment has fallen. The number of tourists has plummeted, amidst security concerns, and foreign reserves have come down to their lowest level yet. Indeed, even staples like bread are in short supply. However, the support that Sisi enjoys from the establishment, especially the military, and his recent electoral success have attracted some institutions and nations that have shown an interest in investing in Egypt again.

    Sisi, like many others who assume the mantle of leadership in trying times, may well find that getting to be President was the easy part, the tough test is now to come. It remains to be seen if he can provide the stability that the country needs, and the security that Egyptians seek, even as he jumpstarts a stalled economy, and fulfils the aspirations of the millions who want better living standards.

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