Amidst a backdrop of economic turmoil and political tension, Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi prepares for a third term election. The country's once-heroic figure now faces a wave of discontent from Egyptians grappling with a cost-of-living crisis. Inflation, which soared to 38.5% in October, and the devaluation of the Egyptian pound have left citizens like Nadia, a widow and mother of six, in a daily struggle for survival.
Large Infrastructure Projects: A Double-Edged Sword
Al-Sisi's tenure has been defined by ambitious infrastructure projects, including new roads and a scarcely populated new capital city. Critics argue these projects have drained resources and escalated debt. Despite this, some economists defend these initiatives, highlighting their contribution to job creation and unemployment reduction. However, the current economic hardship, exacerbated by external factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the Ukraine war, has resulted in nearly 30% of Egypt's population living below the poverty line.
Election: A Predetermined Outcome?
The upcoming election, rather than being a democratic competition, is criticized as a mere formality with a predetermined outcome. Opposition groups are suppressed, and the public anticipates another victory for Sisi. Former opposition MP, Ahmed Tantawy, withdrew from the race citing intimidation tactics. This political climate, combined with the economic challenges, underscores the growing disillusionment among Egyptians.
Rising Risks for Human Rights Activists
The authoritarian climate under Sisi's rule has also heightened risks for human rights activists. Mina Thabet, who now lives in exile, is a stark example. After being detained and accused of various charges by the government, Thabet's case reflects the severe crackdown on dissent. As the election looms, the plight of Egyptians like Thabet and Nadia remains a pressing concern, highlighting the stark contrast between the country's political landscape and the harsh realities of its citizens.