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May 27, 2024

El-Sisi Secures Third Term Amid Mounting Crises in Egypt

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Dec 19, 2023

President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has swept Egypt’s presidential election, securing a third term in office with 89.6% of the vote amid historically low turnout and a lack of genuine opposition candidates. While the election results cement El-Sisi’s status as an authoritarian leader, he faces monumental economic and security challenges that could undermine stability in the coming years.

Landslide Victory Comes Amid Boycott Calls

Egypt’s National Election Authority announced on Monday that El-Sisi won 13 million votes out of the 14.3 million cast during voting last week. His only rival, little-known politician Moussa Mostafa, garnered just 555,000 votes.

However, opposition groups had called for a boycott of what they termed a “sham election” devoid of real choice. Turnout was reportedly just 41% – the lowest rate in recent Egyptian history – as many voters seemingly heeded these calls and opted to stay home.

Human rights groups also alleged widespread vote buying, intimidation and silencing of dissent in the lead-up to the election, decrying the atmosphere of “fear and repression” surrounding the vote.

Praise from Allies, Criticism from Detractors

El-Sisi’s re-election to a third 6-year term was praised by his allies but criticized by human rights groups.

Russian President Vladimir Putin quickly phoned the Egyptian president to congratulate him on his “convincing election victory” while Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also tweeted his congratulations.

However, human rights groups including HRW and Amnesty International criticized the election as neither free nor fair. Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at DAWN, stated that El-Sisi has “strangled Egyptian civil and political rights” through his repression.

Graphic showing Egypt's election results

Nearly 90% of votes went to incumbent president El-Sisi according to official results

Challenges Mounting During El-Sisi’s Rule

While El-Sisi has held a tight grip on power since first coming to office in 2014, his next term seems likely to prove his most challenging yet as Egypt faces deepening economic turmoil and threats to stability.

Faltering Economy

Under El-Sisi’s rule, Egypt has undertaken massive infrastructure projects like the construction of a new administrative capital and extended road networks. However, these projects have contributed to spiraling government debt.

As noted by the Washington Post, Egypt’s foreign reserves have fallen by nearly 50% since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last February. The war has hit Egypt particularly hard as the country relies on wheat and fuel imports from the warring nations.

With inflation exceeding 21% this year, Egyptians are facing reduced purchasing power, long bread lines and calls to cut government subsidies. To obtain an IMF bailout, El-Sisi’s government has had to agree to tough austerity measures like tax hikes and deep cuts in subsidies for fuel and electricity.

However, these steps seem certain to bring even more economic pain for average citizens struggling under the burden of price increases for staple goods. As noted by the Economist, annual urban consumer price inflation in Egypt has soared to more than 5 times its rate when El-Sisi first took power.

Water Insecurity

Egypt’s water security is also under threat as upstream countries move forward with massive dam projects affecting vital Nile River water flows. El-Sisi recently called Ethiopia’s huge new Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) an “existential threat” that could severely impact Egypt’s agricultural sector and food supply.

While El-Sisi previously threatened military action if Ethiopia filled the dam without an agreement, talks remain stalled and Egypt now seems resigned to living with reduced Nile water flows. With Egypt already defined as a water scarce country, the GERD’s impacts could further destabilize the country in El-Sisi’s next term.

Terror Threats

El-Sisi also faces security issues like an ISIS insurgency in the Sinai and threats from militants based in neighboring Gaza and Libya. He aims to silence critics by presenting himself as the only leader capable of maintaining stability amid regional chaos.

However, flare-ups like the 2021 Gaza war show the limits of El-Sisi’s control. He failed to broker a ceasefire as Hamas rockets reached Egyptian cities during the conflict. Going forward, sporadic violence seems inevitable despite El-Sisi’s repression and massive budgets for military and security forces.

Outlook: Can El-Sisi Weather the Coming Storms?

While El-Sisi has successfully concentrated power by jailing opponents and stifling dissent, analysts see his political position as increasingly vulnerable given Egypt’s myriad crises. If economic conditions worsen sharply or security threats escalate, public anger could boil over despite authoritarian constraints.

As concluded by the New York Times, “if the problems aren’t solved, that acquiescence could disappear.” El-Sisi’s international backers also expect real policy shifts rather than just stabilizing crackdowns.

With no clear successor, chaos could ensue if El-Sisi leaves power unexpectedly. But for now, he remains solidly entrenched as Egypt’s head of state for 6 more years amid doubts that anyone else could fill the role.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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