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

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games, Despite Woes

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    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.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora