THE President-Bishop in Jerusalem and the Middle East, the Most
Revd Mouneer Anis, has welcomed the overwhelming victory of Abdel
Fattah el-Sisi in the recent presidential elections in Egypt. The
new President won 23 million of the 25 million votes cast.
In a statement last weekend, Bishop Anis said that his personal
opinion was that President Sisi "is the right choice at this time,
because Egypt needs a president who can re-establish the security
of the country. Without security, tourism and the economic
situation will not improve."
He said that the new President, who gave up his post as the
army's chief of staff to stand in the elections, would "have to
work hard in order to meet the many challenges that are facing
Egypt, including the financial situation, and the concerns of those
who think that Egypt will be ruled in a military-like way".
Supporters of President Sisi point out that he received ten
million more votes than the Muslim Brotherhood-backed Mohammed
Morsi when he was voted into office in 2013. He and the
Brotherhood-dominated government were removed from power last July
by the military.
Since last July, thousands of Muslim Brotherhood leaders and
supporters havebeen jailed, and the organisation has been banned.
In protest, millions of Brotherhood sympathisers boycotted the
election - as did many young Egyptians, who were at the forefront
of the revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak. In their view, the
rise to power of another president backed by the military means
that most of the gains of the 2011 uprising have evaporated.
The hope among backers of President Sisi was that the election
would see both a landslide victory for their candidate and a huge
turnout. They achieved their first aim, but failed in their second.
Only 44 per cent of electors went to the polls, even after the
authorities had taken the unprecedented step of ordering a third
day of voting, giving civil servants the day off, and making public
Perhaps the most encouraging aspect of the election was that it
was conducted with relatively little violence, and few claims of
vote-rigging. But the poor turnout is an indication of how the
country is split.
There is still clearly a wide gulf between Islamists and secular
Egyptians; but now young people with liberal views are increasingly
dissatisfied with the style of the military-backed leadership. The
latest constitution - replacing the one drawn up during Muslim
Brotherhood rule - enshrines the right of military courts to try
civilians, and a new law imposes tight restrictions on
President Sisi's biggest test will be to raise the country's
economy out of the quagmire. Thus far, he has failed to present a
coherent vision of how this is to be done. Unless he can takes
steps quickly to improve the quality of life, then millions of
Egyptians are likely to take to the streets again in protest. As
the columnist Wael Nawara has written: "No president should ever
take Egyptians for granted, or treat them like children any more.