Egypt: What vision for the future will El-Sisi bring?

Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi will officially become a presidential candidate this week, but speculation is already high regarding who will be among his presidential staff and what his policies will be … //

… Shades of grey: … //

… Human rights versus security:  

Human rights violations have been on the rise in Egypt since the bloody dispersal of two Brotherhood sit-ins in Cairo last August, with international human rights organisations blaming security forces for excessive use of force in the absence of an effective and transparent judiciary.
Dozens also died across Egypt on 25 January, in demonstrations to mark the third anniversary of the 2011 uprising. Several European ambassadors that spoke to Ahram Online compared the day to another bloody holiday — last year’s 40th anniversary of the 6 October War against Israel — in which 51 people died in clashes between pro-Morsi and pro-military supporters.
“And in-between the two days we have seen a clampdown on activists — seculars who had been opposed to the Muslim Brotherhood and not just Islamists,” a diplomat said.
European diplomats say that their capitals have tried hard not to publicly criticise Egypt’s “deteriorating human rights conditions,” in light of the fact that the country is “also facing a serious security threat.” However, as one diplomat specified, the death of the April 6 Youth Movement’s Sayed Wizza, who died from bullet wounds sustained when security forces dispersed an anti-Sisi protest in Downtown Cairo on 25 January, “cannot really be qualified as part of the so-called ‘war on terror’.”
In the second week of February, the EU Council of Ministers issued a statement calling on the Egyptian government to properly investigate allegations of increasing human rights violations.
The statement came as EU Special Representative for Human Rights Starvos Lambrinids was in Cairo reminding his interlocutors of Egyptian commitments to human rights standards as specified in the newly-amended constitution, and as stipulated in the Neighbourhood Agreement that allows Egypt to benefit from European aid and support.
And this week, less than 48 hours before the announced nomination of El-Sisi, the UN asked Egyptian authorities to reverse the death sentence passed against over 500 Muslim Brotherhood members. The appeal was made as several world capitals were expressing deep concern over the significance of the sentence that was already qualified by Amnesty International, among other rights groups, as “grotesque.”
Insiders from El-Sisi’s political team say that “irrespective of the international position” on Egypt’s human rights situation, El-Sisi as president will be “categorically opposed” to violations and will work towards their full “eradication.”
No explanation has been given, though, as to why El-Sisi never used his position as deputy prime minister for security affairs to keep alleged violations in check, much less acted simply from a moral standpoint.
A government official maintains that El-Sisi’s tolerance of the ongoing violations is necessary to maintain a “very firm security policy” that will curb terrorism, an approach that the public supports, “for the most part.”
“Once the security situation improves, there will be a different attitude,” the official said.
However, in the statement he made to the nation on Wednesday evening, El-Sisi, who had been leading an “anti-terror war” since last July, did not speak of an improved security situation but rather of security challenges and terror threats.
According to one political figure who has been conferring with El-Sisi frequently during the last few weeks, El-Sisi would nonetheless act to improve the quality of human rights practices once elected president, and once he there is a parliament that could effectively transfer human rights and freedoms principles stipulated in the new constitution into operative laws.
“This is [El-Sisi's] mind-set,” one of the political figures told Ahram Online. “He wants clear rules and regulations … to be firmly implemented. It is quite compatible with his military background. He does want to [be] a president who observes the constitution and acts to implement its guidelines.”

Angry young men:

In addition to assuaging international apprehension over his perceived legitimacy, a precondition for much-needed economic aid, El-Sisi will at the same time have to deal with pressing matters on the home front.
Sources say that El-Sisi worked with top state, political and intellectual figures to draft a presidential platform offering detailed plans for reforming and improving the quality of state services, particularly heath, education and public transport.
A member of the campaign team told Ahram Online that the finalised scheme is a part of El-Sisi’s major goal “to deliver to the people and make them satisfied.”
“This is the best certificate of accreditation that any president could wish to have: a high approval rate at home,” the source said.
He added that after the objectives are realised, which will happen because of support not just from the military but also the business community, which is “sick and tired” of continued economic instability, it will only be a matter of time before the rest of the world comes around and gets behind El-Sisi as well.
Of course, it won’t be easy. El-Sisi’s associates do not deny that even with enormous backing, and the belief that all of Egypt’s problems can be tackled, El-Sisi is still apprehensive about the sheer weight of responsibility the position of president will entail, especially amid a ruined economy that needs support from a sceptical international audience.
The sources say that El-Sisi remains unsure as to how to deal with an increasingly disenfranchised and apprehensive youth population, who showed very small interest in voting in January’s constitutional referendum and have continually remained defiant against the last three years’ worth of leaders.
According to a source close to El-Sisi, he has admitted that even if he had the majority of votes on his side, he would still not want to be president if thousands of angry youth were demonstrating against him.
Many of the key figures of youth groups declined invitations to join the head of army or the interim head of state for a candid talk on “political developments,” with some — as they told Ahram Online — insisting that they would only join the suggested meetings upon the release of activists held by the police with no compelling evidence against them, or on any charges.
El-Sisi has promised, according to close advisors, to reach out to this key constituency, the source said, but acknowledges that this might be the most daunting of the tasks that he will face as he transitions from army chief to head of state.
The release of January 25 revolutionary figure Alaa Abdel-Fattah from imprisonment over criminal charges a few days ago pending appeal is certainly an attempt to accommodate the youth. But whether it will work or not is one of the many questions that the now presidential runner El-Sisi will have to answer.

(full long text).


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