News / Middle East

Egypt's Sissi Lowers Expectations for Change

 An Egyptian man on horse cart rides past a huge banner for Egypt's former army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in downtown Cairo, May 6, 2014.
An Egyptian man on horse cart rides past a huge banner for Egypt's former army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in downtown Cairo, May 6, 2014.
Reuters
Egyptians should not expect instant democracy or rapid economic reforms, but they should pull together for shared sacrifice. That is the sober message being delivered by Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, the general who toppled Egypt's first freely-elected leader last year and now is poised to be elected president later this month.

The former army chief stepped squarely into the public eye this week with a lengthy televised interview and other public remarks. His words seem carefully calibrated to appeal to Egyptians' hunger for stability and to draw a line under the era of rapid transformation since the 2011 revolt that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

It is wrong to expect Egypt to turn into a Western-style democracy overnight, he said on his campaign site on Facebook.

“We always turn to the image of stable democracies in states that preceded us and compare them with Egypt,” said Sissi. “Applying the models of Western democracies in the case of Egypt does an injustice to Egyptians. Egyptian society still faces time before it enjoys true democracy as it should be.”

Sissi's interviews have revealed the gruff personality that his supporters say shows that he is a decisive man of action, and his opponents say are signs of a new autocrat in waiting.

In an interview with two Egyptian television channels -- CBC and ONTV -- Sissi avoided getting into specifics about policy. He handled questions on sensitive topics by saying little, and told off the pro-army anchors when they interrupted him.

He also hinted at a cautious approach to economic reforms, saying the state should not move too quickly to dismantle the subsidies for fuel and food that Western backers say are unsustainable and have ruined public finances.

“The subsidies can't be removed suddenly. People will not tolerate that,” said Sisi.

Many of his remarks stressed the need for a national effort. He urged every Egyptian to sacrifice, suggesting he had no ready cures for poverty, a fast-growing Islamist insurgency or unemployment.

“Sissi's rhetoric is much more about the need for hard work. He's not quite Churchillian, but he certainly is not pandering on a material level,” said Nathan Brown, an expert on Egypt based at George Washington University in the United States,

“Whether that will make any difference remains to be seen. But it is an indication that he wants to keep expectations low,” said Brown.

Creating stability

Sissi is expected to easily win the May 26-27 presidential election. The only other candidate is leftist politician Hamdeen Sabahi, who came in third in the 2012 election won by Morsi.

Egyptians are mostly concerned with stability in a country beset by protests and political violence since Mubarak's fall.

Many of them see Sissi as the answer, even though men from the military who have ruled Egypt since 1952 were accused of mismanaging the nation.

His opponents fear Sisi will become yet another authoritarian leader who will preserve the interests of the military and the Mubarak-era establishment.

The Muslim Brotherhood, which had propelled Morsi to power at the ballot box, accuses Sissi of staging a coup against a legitimately chosen president and trampling on human rights.

Sissi said he acted according to the will of Egyptians, who staged mass protests against Morsi's rule.

He acknowledged abuses have been committed during one of the toughest security crackdowns in Egypt's modern history.

“We must understand that there cannot be a security situation with this depth and confusion that we are seeing, without some violations,” he said. “There is law and procedures have been taken so that this does not happen again.”

He was very clear, however, that he would press on with his campaign to destroy the Brotherhood, which won every election since Mubarak's ouster, but now has been driven underground after security forces killed hundreds of its members and jailed thousands of others.

Asked whether the Brotherhood would cease to exist during his presidency, Sissi answered: “Yes. That's right.”

You May Like

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Godwin from: Nigeria
May 09, 2014 1:51 PM
Whatever the change, if Sissi is able to permanently silence Muslim Brotherhood and all voices of islamist extremism in the country, he has chatted the right course for democracy not only in Egypt but also for the whole of the Arab world and Africa.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid