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Egypt's opposition to issue reports on Sisi's one year in power

A number of Egyptian political parties have said that they will prepare reports about the successes and failures of President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi after his first year in office

Gamal Essam El-Din , Saturday 23 May 2015
Sisi
In this image released by the Middle East State News Agency, newly sworn in President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, takes his oath at the Supreme Constitutional Court in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, June 8, 2014 (Photo: AP)
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Just like they drafted unified amendments for election laws last week, a number of Egyptian political parties have said that they plan to issue a unified report about President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi’s first year in office.

El-Sisi won Egypt's presidential elections by a landslide majority of 96 percent after a three-day vote in May, 2014. El-Sisi's one rival, leftist politician Hamdeen Sabahi, won almost 4 percent.

El-Sisi swore in as president of Egypt on 8 June, 2014.

According to Anwar Al-Sadat, chairman of the liberal Reform and Development Party, a number of Egyptian opposition parties are currently discussing the possibility of issuing a unified report about the performance of El-Sisi in one year this week or next week.

"In spite of internal divisions which have plagued some like the Wafd Party in recent weeks, we hope that most mainstream political parties will respond positively to this initiative," said Sadat. "If a unified report was issued, it would be sent to El-Sisi."

Sadat said they have not yet received an answer to a report they sent to El-Sisi last week, in which the opposition made unified suggestions for amendments to three election laws.

"I think he might have sent the report to the cabinet or to the minister of parliamentary affairs who is also the head of a government-appointed committee in charge of amending election laws to give its say on it," said Sadat.

"As El-Sisi adopted the new tradition of delivering monthly speeches to the people, he should also expect that political parties will be interested in issuing periodical reports about his performance," he said.

According to Sadat, "the role of political parties is to alert the president's attention to his successes and failures, because we are all partners in one nation."

Consulting political parties

"In his early years in power, former president Hosni Mubarak showed his keenness to listen to all political parties, but he soon turned into an autocrat, listening only to his clique of corrupt officials and his son and former heir apparent Gamal," he said.

As for former Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, who was ousted from office in July 2013 after mass protests, Sadat argued that "he was autocratic from the beginning, listening only to the supreme guidance office of his Muslim Brotherhood group."

"In some cases, Morsi met with political parties to explore their opinions on certain national issues such as the impact of Ethiopia's new dam on Egypt's quota of Nile water, but it was a disaster and only complicated the issue," said Sadat.

"El-Sisi met once with representatives from political parties, but his one year in office has shown that he is not interested in responding to any reforms to be proposed by these parties," he said. "And this is one of his failures in one year -- not to mention that the inner circle around him still includes a number of Mubarak's high-profile officials."

Sadat also laments that, in his one year in office and in the absence of an elected parliament, El-Sisi has made excessive use of his legislative powers.

"This was clear in economic and political areas, as some legislations were ratified fast, without seeking the opinion of civil society organisations," said Sadat.

These included "two election laws that the Supreme [Constitutional] Court ruled unconstitutional, and a host of economic laws that were either re-amended or suspended for different flaws”.

'Successes'

Sadat, however, insists that El-Sisi's successes in one year outweigh his failures.

"I think most Egyptians agree that he has achieved a considerable degree of stability after one year of the chaos and violence that erupted after the removal of Morsi from power," said Sadat. “It is true that there is still one flashpoint of violence – that is in North Sinai – but I think the army has been able to impose an upper hand there."

Sadat also refers with particular interest to the Egyptian army's air raid on Islamist militants in Libya in retaliation for the killing of 21 Egyptian Christians as a big Sisi achievement.

"It sent a message to most Egyptians and many foreign countries, especially Ethiopia, that Egypt's use of force outside its borders is possible if national security is menaced," said Sadat.

'Judging according to ideology'

Ahmed El-Gammal, a Nasserist Ahram political columnist, agrees that "the debate over El-Sisi's first year in office has begun very early."

But the problem with most political forces and figures evaluating him is that they insist on judging him in ideological terms.

"I mean that the Socialists want him tow their line: obliterate businessmen, dismiss privatisation and nationalise factories and severe relations with the US," said El-Gammal, adding that "but if he refused, they would call him another Mubarak."

On the other hand, added El-Gammal, "the liberals want El-Sisi to adopt an extreme Western agenda: see off the remnants of the Mubarak regime, reconcile with the Muslim Brotherhood, and allow street protests without any checks."

"And if he refused this agenda, he would be again branded as another Mubarak."

Hossam El-Khouli, a spokesman for the Wafd Party, said that he had no idea that political parties were consulting on issuing a unified report about El-Sisi's one year in office.

"Al-Wafd, the party's newspaper, will just devote a particular issue to reviewing El-Sisi's first year in office," said El-Khouli.

In general, most Egyptian newspapers are preparing "special issues" about El-Sisi's first year as president.

Diverging opinions

"The repeated delay of parliamentary elections is El-Sisi's greatest failure,” said Gaber El-Shehabi, chairman of the Geel (Generation) Party.

El-Shehabi said political parties who are members of the so-called "One Project Initiative" are deliberating on issuing a unified report on El-Sisi's first year in rule.

Yehia Qadri, deputy chairman of the Egyptian National Movement party, does not agree that "El-Sisi is to blame for the delay of the polls".

"The drafting of a law combining a mix of two electoral systems is a very difficult and delicate issue that requires a lot of time," said Qadri, adding that he sees no problem in political parties preparing a unified report about El-Sisi's performance.

Wagih Shehab, a spokesman for the liberal Free Egyptians Party, said the party would prepare its own report about El-Sisi's first year in power.

A positive poll

Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab last week received an opinion poll report about his government and El-Sisi’s performance during their first year in office.

The report, as published by Egyptian newspapers, states that "as many as 84.6 percent of Egyptians believe that El-Sisi's performance in one year was generally positive."

They cited "restoring stability and security, fighting terrorism, recovering significant tourist traffic, boosting national foreign currency reserves, and eliminating power cuts" as reasons for satisfaction.

The report, however, shows that 68 percent of citizens complain of high inflation rates, low fuel subsidies and low quality public services.

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