Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Egypt: Update--al-Sisi Swept into Office by 93.3% of Egyptians Who Seemingly Voted Out of Fear, What Future Can Egypt Have?

According to Reuters, former Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the general who toppled Egypt's first freely elected leader in July 2013, swept to victory in a presidential election, provisional results showed on Thursday (May 29), joining a long line of leaders drawn from the military.
But a lower than expected turnout figure raised questions about Sisi's credibility after his supporters had idolized him as a hero who can deliver political and economic stability.

al-Sisi captured 93.3% of votes cast as counting nearly came to a close, judicial sources said. His only rival, leftist politician Hamdeen Sabahi, gained 3% while 3.7% of votes were declared as void.

al-Sisi, who ousted Morsi in 2013 after mass protests against his rule, is seen by supporters as a strong figure who can end the turmoil that has convulsed Egypt since the revolution that ended Mubarak's 30 years in power.

 The former Field Marshal enjoys the backing of the powerful armed forces and the Interior Ministry, as well many politicians and former Mubarak officials now making a comeback.

COMMENT: What is so strange is that al-Sisi seemingly captured 93.3% of the vote, even though few Egyptians fully understand why they were voting for al-Sisi, other than the fact that he is yet another product of the military without  a reason as to why voters case such a large percentage of the vote for a man they really don't respect.

Now that al-Sisi has been elected, will political violence end? Probably not.

In 2012, the powerful Muslim Brotherhood swept Mohammed Morsi not  having any understanding as why they actually voted for the Brotherhood.
Yet, al-Sisi metal will be proven or refuted in his ability to restore order to an unpredictable Egypt that may well continue to suffer from a defunct tourism industry that may take considerable time to rekindle.

Overall turnout was only 44.4% of Egypt's 54 million voters, according to the judicial sources. That would be less than the 40 million votes, or 80% of the electorate. 

It would also suggest that al-Sisi had failed to rally the overwhelming support he hoped for after toppling Mursi.

In a country polarized since the revolt against Mubarak, many Egyptians said voters had stayed at home due to political apathy, opposition to another military man becoming president, discontent at suppression of freedoms among liberal youth and calls for a boycott by Islamists.

New York City-based Human Rights Watch said a crackdown launched after Morsi's ouster had created a repressive environment that undermined the fairness of the election.

Despite an official campaign to bring out more voters, Egyptians, many opposed to al-Sisi, gave various reasons for their lack of enthusiasm.

The Muslim Brotherhood, believed to have at least one million members, has rejected the election, describing it as an extension of the army takeover. The group, loyal to Morsi, was outlawed by the military as a terrorist group and saw around 1,000 members killed in a security crackdown.

Since he gave a series of television interviews, many Egyptians feel al-Sisi has not spelled out a clear vision of how he would tackle Egypt's challenges, instead making a general call for people to work hard and be patient.

al-Sisi also faces the formidable challenge of crushing an Islamist armed insurgency and eliminating any threat from the Brotherhood, which as the country's best-organized political force, had won every national vote held after Mubarak's fall.

The Muslim Brotherhood has been devastated by one of the toughest crackdowns in its history. Its top leaders, including Morsi, are on trial and could face the death penalty. The movement seemed inspired by the low turnout in this week's polling.