Egypt is going to hold its third presidential election since the Jasmine Revolution between March 26 and 28, and the re-election of the incumbent president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, is basically a foregone conclusion.
This election is pretty much fixed right from the start, with almost each and every one of President Sisi’s potential opponents either having been arrested or forced to drop out of the race.
However, in order to make the election look more “competitive”, Mousa Mostafa Mousa from the pro-government party Ghad is going to “run against” Sisi.
According to Timothy Kaldas of the Washington, D.C.-based Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy, it would be too kind to describe the race as an “election”. It would be much more suitable to call it a farce.
The “Jasmine Revolution” that had toppled former president Hosni Mubarak didn’t bring about any democracy or prosperity to the country.
At present, the unemployment rate in Egypt remains at 17 percent, down from the record 33 percent in 2017 but still substantially higher than the 12.6 percent in 2016, particularly among the youth.
Worse still, Egypt suffered the worst terrorist attack in the country’s history in November last year.
The Islamic State is generally believed to be responsible for the attack, although the Muslim Brotherhood is also suspected to have played a role in it. The latter was declared a terrorist group and completely banned after President Sisi assumed power in 2014.
No wonder many Egyptians have begun to miss the good old days under Mubarak. Even though he was highly corrupt when he was in power, at least he was able to maintain stability across the country and keep the economy vibrant.
President Sisi has carried out sweeping financial reforms, but it remains to be seen whether he would stay the course and even declare war on the country’s economic vested interests, many of whom are his political allies.
Intriguingly though, while Sisi is being shunned by the international community, US President Donald Trump appears to hold him in high regard, just like the way he admires other political strongmen like Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping and even, to some extent, Kim Jong-un of North Korea.
Sadly, as to the question of what the Jasmine Revolution truly fought for, it seems now to be just an incident.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on March 6
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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