President Abdel Fatah El-Sisi wins reelection, however faces severe challenges

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CAIRO — President Abdel Fatah El-Sisi coasted to victory in Egypt’s presidential election this month, clinching a 3rd time period in a vote whose end result was predetermined however which was hailed by supporters as a transparent mandate for six extra years of iron-fisted rule, even because the nation contends with a collapsing economic system and a struggle raging subsequent door.

Sisi, a strongman and former basic who rose to energy after a coup in 2013, obtained almost 90 p.c of the vote, election officers introduced at a information convention Monday. The handful of little-known candidates who ran in opposition to him — none of whom posed a reputable problem — obtained about 10 p.c of the vote between them.

At slightly below 67 p.c, in response to the Nationwide Election Authority, turnout was greater than in 2014 and 2018. Ahmed Bendari, the physique’s director, known as it “unprecedented” in Egyptian historical past.

Sisi has already served two four-year phrases; a constitutional modification in 2019 paved the way in which for him to remain in workplace till 2030, however he’s presiding over a rustic that’s deeply in debt, flailing economically and dwelling subsequent door to brutal battle with no straightforward finish in sight.

What to find out about Egypt’s election, anticipated at hand Sisi a 3rd time period

Sisi’s solely severe opponent, former parliamentarian Ahmed Tantawy, was unable to get on the poll after supporters have been blocked from endorsing him. Tantawy’s members of the family and marketing campaign workers have been arrested or harassed and he was indicted final month on expenses rights teams described as politically motivated.

Egyptian media, virtually fully state-affiliated, touted Sisi’s accomplishments whereas giving little airtime to his three challengers. Most voters interviewed throughout the Egyptian capital in the course of the three-day voting interval final week had by no means heard of the opposite candidates.

For Sisi and his backers, it was all in regards to the present.

Billboards bearing his face alongside the slogans “All of us are with you” and “Beloved of the Egyptians” loomed above Cairo’s maze of highways forward of the vote. His marketing campaign banners lined most main streets.

At a polling web site in Sayeda Zeinab, a working-class neighborhood in central Cairo, volunteers sporting T-shirts emblazoned with the president’s face corralled voters right into a line. Close to Tahrir Sq., the middle of the 2011 Arab Spring revolution, younger women and men marched down a large avenue behind “Sisi for president” banners.

Many Egyptians exterior polling websites on Monday described voting as a civic obligation.

“I’ve to present my opinion,” mentioned Rasha Ashour, 40, a diet technician from the working-class neighborhood of Basateen. “We would like the nation to be higher so we try to assist it to be higher.”

That meant voting for Sisi, she mentioned.

Walid, 58, a neatly dressed businessman who voted in downtown Cairo, insisted it was “a free and honest election.”

“Nobody cheated. We voted our alternative, our president,” Walid added, talking on the situation he be recognized by his first identify solely, for privateness causes. “He’s completed an incredible job. He protected our nation.”

As Egypt’s financial disaster deepens, an reasonably priced meal is difficult to search out

However loads of Egyptians stayed at dwelling, dismayed by sliding dwelling requirements and feeling powerless to result in change.

In Bulaq el-Dakrour, a lower-income neighborhood of unpaved alleyways trafficked by donkey carts, an unemployed 26-year-old leaned in opposition to the wall of a blacksmith’s store final week and mentioned neither he nor his buddies deliberate to vote.

Sisi “fully destroyed [the country], he made it very onerous,” he mentioned, talking on the situation of anonymity out of concern for his safety.

“Nobody is voting,” he added. “Those that go, go for the cash. I don’t know what they provide them, however they should be giving them cash.”

Washington Publish reporters noticed a bunch of girls crowding round a person inside one polling space in central Cairo asking redeem their coupons.

A 40-year-old trainer in Helwan, a southern suburb of Cairo, informed The Publish she hadn’t wished to vote. However her employer compelled academics at her public faculty to board buses to the polls this week. After she forged her poll, native officers gave her and others who may show that they had voted 200 kilos, about $6.

The trainer mentioned colleagues who remained behind have been informed they’d be reported to the training authority, denied paid go away and docked three days’ pay.

“It’s elections by pressure,” she mentioned, talking on the situation of anonymity out of concern for her security.

Diaa Rashwan, the top of the State Info Service, mentioned there was no proof of any cash or items being exchanged for voting and such practices have been a legal offense below Egyptian regulation.

There have been “no violations within the election course of,” Hazem Badawy of the Nationwide Election Authority mentioned on the information convention Monday.

For many Egyptians interviewed by The Publish, their willingness to forged a poll appeared to stem much less from love of the president than from a deep worry that has taken maintain right here since Oct. 7, when the Hamas assault on Israel triggered the struggle in neighboring Gaza.

As Israel bombards Gaza, killing hundreds of civilians, public anger at Israel and its Western backers is mounting. Remarks by some right-wing Israeli politicians — coupled with a army assault that has pushed almost 2 million Gazans towards the Egyptian border — have fueled fears in Egypt that Israel is making an attempt to drive Palestinians into northern Sinai.

As Israel pummels besieged Gaza, Egypt resists opening as much as refugees

Sisi has insisted that Egypt won’t be complicit within the compelled displacement of Palestinians or jeopardize its sovereignty and safety. His stance earned plaudits from even a few of his sharpest critics — and renewed respect from some Egyptians who had soured on him because the economic system worsened.

In Sayeda Zeinab, the struggle bolstered residents’ conviction {that a} army chief is greatest for Egypt, shopkeeper Adel Tawfik, 75, mentioned.

“His recognition was affected by the excessive costs, however after Gaza, they returned to assist him once more,” he mentioned. “Sudan, Libya, Syria, Palestine — in comparison with others, we’re doing higher. And we’re proper in the course of fireplace.”

Safety and stability have fashioned the cornerstone of Sisi’s pitch since he got here to energy in 2013 after a army coup ousted Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s democratically elected president from the Muslim Brotherhood. Sisi gambled that Egyptians and international backers would tolerate home repression, the jailing or exiling of human rights defenders, the shrinking of civic area — and even mismanagement of the economic system — as long as he ensured that Egypt remained calm in a area torn aside by turmoil.

The struggle in Gaza has put that argument entrance and middle once more, giving Sisi a much-needed enhance.

Increased total turnout this time appeared to mirror “the troubles of the Egyptians and the anger of the youth towards the worldwide group,” mentioned Noha Bakr, a professor of political science on the American College in Cairo.

But when successful was the straightforward half, Sisi faces a bunch of daunting challenges forward.

There’s the fast precedence of holding Egypt out of the Gaza struggle and sustaining its 1979 peace treaty with Israel, analysts mentioned, all whereas making an attempt to assuage public anguish over the struggling of Palestinians.

The economic system, closely depending on tourism and imports, is at its lowest level in a long time, buffeted by the pandemic, the struggle in Ukraine and now the combating in Gaza. However analysts additionally level to severe structural issues, mixed with reckless authorities spending.

The federal government has borrowed closely to finance huge infrastructure and constructing tasks, together with a $58 billion new capital within the desert exterior Cairo. The army, closely concerned within the economic system below Sisi, advantages from many of those tasks.

Some Egyptians say the brand new roads and bridges have eased congestion in higher Cairo, dwelling to just about 1 / 4 of Egypt’s 105 million individuals. However the nation’s exterior debt has reached almost $165 billion — 40 p.c of the Gross Home Product. Curiosity funds made up 60 p.c of presidency expenditure for the primary three months of the 2023 fiscal yr.

Egypt faces looming deadlines to pay again a minimum of $42 billion to lenders subsequent yr. It’s the second-likeliest nation on the planet to default on its debt funds, after Ukraine, in response to a current Bloomberg rating.

“Mainly all the length of Sisi’s presidency has been an endemic collection of financial crises — and it’s not simply financial hardship, it’s humiliation,” mentioned Timothy Kaldas, deputy director of the Tahrir Institute for Center East Coverage. “Whereas all that is occurring, Egyptians are watching the regime enrich itself.”

Inflation stands at 34.6 p.c. For meals merchandise, it’s almost double. Amid a hard-currency crunch, Egyptians are hoarding {dollars} or promoting them on the black market.

Costs of primary commodities have soared, and poverty is on the rise. Whereas welfare applications supply primary assist to the poor, the center class is being hollowed out. On the streets of Cairo and on fashionable speak exhibits, the price of onions and a months-long “sugar disaster” dominate dialog.

Many Egyptians worry an upcoming devaluation of the pound, demanded by worldwide lenders.

“Individuals now count on that after he wins, the costs are going to double,” mentioned a 47-year-old housewife and mom of three in Bulaq el-Dakrour, who spoke on the situation of anonymity out of concern for her security.

She used to prepare dinner meat or rooster for her household twice every week, she mentioned. Not. A few of her neighbors go to mattress hungry.

“He says he takes care of girls,” she mentioned, referring to Sisi, whom many Egyptians hesitate to call publicly. “However the ladies listed below are feeling the stress. I don’t assume it’ll get higher.”

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