Back to square one

May 30, 2014 - 3:11:30 am

The electoral victory of Sisi doesn’t hold much hope for Egypt in the long run. 

The election of Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi ushers in a crucial phase in the revolutionary struggle that thousands of Egyptians started in 2011. It would be wrong to say that the rage of citizens who suffered under decades of virtual dictatorship by ousted president Hosni Mubarak has died down. It is hard to stifle the festering feelings a people — and an oppressed on at that — given to change the course of a nation’s life and, as a result, theirs. 

Sisi will follow into the high-stakes presidency of Egypt eleven months after Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Mursi was thrown out of power by the recalcitrant military. Mursi, a US educated engineer, was anointed president after he won a victory in elections considered largely free and fair. 

When the Tahrir Revolution raged in 2011, scarcely would one imagine that another man from the military would be chosen to decide the fate of the country three years hence. Egyptians then were fighting the rule of Hosni Mubarak, another militaryman, who had morphed into a dictator and was milking the nation dry. He is still fighting a court battle and has been indicted in corruption cases. 

It is hard to bring about democracy — Egyptians have been fighting for it — when the military is at the helm. History is replete with instances of power grabs — at times through the ballot box — through which military regimes have promised to bring about revolutionary changes. However, nations have fared poorly under such governments. Military officers are groomed to lead forces taking on the might of an enemy. Such setups are not given to a democratic culture. Many a military general has faltered trying to bring about changes for the better, often at the expense of freedoms taken for granted in a truly democratic polity. 

So, what about Sisi? It is highly likely that the regime under Sisi is likely to pass through the same phases which administrations under military leaders do. The former Egyptian army chief has won by something more than a landslide. He pocketed 96 percent of the vote. His only challenger was leftist candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi.

However, the estimated turnout of 47 percent lays bare the frailty of the electoral process which hoisted Sisi to the presidency.  The Tahrir Revolution had thought of bringing about a sea change. As the world took note of the thousands who camped at the landmark for months and braved the might of an oppressive state, hope seemed bright on the firmament. Then came elections which brought Mursi to power. After Mursi’s ouster that followed months of protest, it is Sisi in the hot seat.  Sisi’s presidency gives the impression that it is back to square one for Egypt. Political stability, which is hard to come by in freshly active political societies, will be hard to achieve. 

Without giving in to temptations of power, it would be proper if Sisi tries to strengthen the flagging economy, restore law and order and take steps to bolster tourism — a mainstay of the Egyptian economy.