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When Al Sisi becomes President, and I don’t say if he becomes President, for whatever happens, he still has the majority vote. So WHEN he does become President, he will have his work cut out for him. He will be in the unique position of owing nothing to any group, lobby, sphere of influence, groups of interest. He will owe his Presidency to ‘the people’. This is really unique, for in this way he will be totally free to go whichever way he pleases without being beholden to special campaign promises. He never promised anything during his campaign so he is under no obligation to keep any promises that were never made. A unique position indeed.
But was the price he paid for this too high? Will his shunning the help of any of the promoting entities of influence cost him dearly? Will he be voted in at a decent, though not a really comfortable margin affect his ability to have as free a hand as he wished to implement his plans? These are all food for thought.
He does not really have a campaign, he is being propelled into the Presidency on the momentum of the people’s gratitude for ridding them of the terrorist Brotherhood and Morsi. A gratitude that turned into adulation of the only romantic figure that could take on that role of leader.
Al Sisi seems to be a decent enough man, a popular leader within the army, someone who worked in intelligence, therefore neither naive nor full of illusions. He seems full of good intentions, but we all know where that way leads to. The people have idealized him for lack of any other to compete and for the great need they feel for a ‘Leader’. The people thirst for someone who would take them by the hand and lead them out of their troubles, who would protect them and restore their pride in themselves and their country. And they have settled on Al Sisi for that role.
How far will he be able to cope and how quickly will he be able to satisfy these dreams, is the crucial question on which hinges his whole administration. He has many pluses in his favor, but has many minuses as well. He will be riding a very tight rope indeed, trying to balance the dreams of people in a nearly bankrupt country, and keeping internal and external enemies at bay. A tall order indeed.
The way the elections have been run up till now do not augur well for a smooth future. The red tape and paralyzingly slow reaction of a monolith of a government machine is more a hindrance than a help. Added to that is the undoubted raging corruption, and the suspected, but difficult to prove existence of a fifth column. All tend to be obstacles that are nearly insurmountable. But not if he tackles these problems with firm control. Which in turn would diminish his popularity that got him the Presidency in the first place. Quite a dilemma, but one that can be handled by a fairly intelligent man who can rule with an iron fist through a velvet glove. To-date Al Sisi has proven himself capable of that, but only time will tell.
He will also be facing the task of wooing back all the factions that were antagonized by certain pragmatic steps that needed to be taken during the past few months. Among them are the youth, who make up nearly 60% of the population. This will be a very delicate task that will probably need a great deal of tact, the principle of the whip and the carrot, and the patience of Job. This is not the only problem he will have to deal with internally. He will have to deal with a dying economy, an infrastructure that is crumbling, and a terrorist organization that is made up of Egyptians, which is being financed and helped and protected by foreign enemies. A daunting task indeed.
Tomorrow will be an interesting day. Whether the efforts to get more people to vote will come to fruition, or whether he scrapes through by the skin of his teeth, will be an indication of things to come.
26 May 2014

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