Belief and expectations

Wednesday, 2018-04-04 05:43:00
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General view of a news conference announcing Egypt's elections results in Cairo, Egypt on April 2, 2018. (Reuters)
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NDO – Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has been re-elected with an overwhelming 97.08% of the vote. He won the trust of the vast majority of Egyptian voters after a term in which he led the country in overcoming the Arab Spring “storm”. However, the four years of his new term promise to be a tough challenge, as President al-Sisi will have to deal with the thorny security problem while restoring the economy, and bringing the country of pyramids back to the trajectory of development and prosperity.

Immediately after the results of the election were announced, people across Egypt poured into the streets to celebrate the victory of President al-Sisi. The former military commander-in-chief, born in 1954, left many imprints during his first presidential term, firmly guiding the country through difficulties after the outbreak of the waves of rebellion in 2011 and the political fluctuations following the dethronement of former President Mohamed Morsi in 2013. Since coming to power in June 2014, President al-Sisi has guided the land of the Pyramids through a vortex of violence, while reinvigorating its ailing economy and restoring Egypt’s position in the international arena. Egypt’s politics has been strengthened and maintained after a three-phase transitional process was completed with a successful parliamentary election held in late 2015.

The Egyptian people’s near unanimous confidence in President al-Sisi is both a motivation and a pressure for him in the new tenure. Although Egypt has escaped the tide of conflict, the threats from the “ghost of terrorism” to this country still remain. Therefore, ensuring security and stability will be the tasks of top priority. Regardless of the security measures taken by the Government, including the Sinai Campaign launched in early February, Egypt still has to cope with the risks of terrorist attacks from different extremist organisations, most dangerously the branch of the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) in Sinai and a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), which has already been banned from operating in Egypt. In 2017, Egypt suffered a series of bloody strikes carried out by IS aimed at security forces, the Christian community, and Muslims.

One of the other priorities of President al-Sisi in the new term is to promote economic development, attract foreign investment, realise the “big projects” that he put forward in his first tenure, create employment for labourers, enhance the educational and healthcare systems, and to implement social security policies. Egypt will have to maintain its achievements, such as the restoration of the tourism industry, which has brought in a large amount of foreign currency revenue, and the exploitation of the Suez Canal, a vitally important sea route that is on the path to full recovery of operations. The continuous implementation of policies on reform and foreign investment attraction will remain a focus in the policy of the al-Sisi administration. However, President al-Sisi also faces a lot of challenges, as Egypt’s economic recovery is not yet stable, and foreign debt is continuously increasing, climbing up to US$80.8 billion by the end of 2017. In addition, Egypt has to demonstrate its efforts to reform and implement austerity policies to secure funding for development projects borrowed from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank (WB), and many financial institutions.

As one of the countries pioneering the addressal of regional issues, Egypt continues to foster its special relationship with its regional allies, as well as continually strengthening its relations with world powers. Shortly after the Egyptian National Electoral Commission (NEC) announced the reelection of President al-Sisi, US President Donald Trump extended his congratulations via a phone call, in which the White House leader reaffirmed the strategic partnership between the US and Egypt. The support of such world powers for President al-Sisi is expected to make it more convenient for him when implementing foreign policies intended to enhance Egypt’s position in the region and around the world.

President al-Sisi has been entrusted by the Egyptian people with the responsibility of leading the country for one more term with a huge workload to address. He has been said to have made bold decisions and needs just one more term to complete these steps. The Egyptian people expect that President al-Sisi will help them to realise their aspirations, and bring the country of pyramids firmly forwards on its path to recovery.