Sunday, 17 February 2013

New Year, New Problems for Egypt

I know it's not exactly New Year any more but it's still only February so I think I can get away with a new year-new problem piece on Egypt. President Mohamed Morsi was sworn in on 30 June 2012, as Egypt's first democratically elected president, but although he has been President for less than a year he is already facing tough decisions that could risk his already declining popularity. The Islamic government won with a 64% majority vote, although other reports state it as 51.7%, but Morsi still has a defiant opposition, a wave of government defections and a looming economic crisis.

Morsi's political rivals have refused to accept the result of the popular referendum, vowing to fight until the divisive constitution is annulled. Revolutionary activists meanwhile are calling for “a second revolution,” on the anniversary of the January 2011 mass uprising to protest what they allege was a vote marred by fraud and numerous irregularities.

In a bid to win over his opponents and broaden his support base, Morsi appointed 90 new members (including liberals and Christians) to the Upper House last week. The new constitution gives the council legislative authority until the lower house or People’s Assembly is elected early next year.

However the political turbulence has kept tourists and foreign investors at bay, undermining efforts to prop up the faltering economy. Last week, Standard & Poor’s cut Egypt's long-term credit rating, saying another cut was possible if the political unrest continues. The government also put a $10,000 limit on the amount of foreign currency travellers can carry in or out of the country at any one time. This move was intended to halt capital flight after an increase in the number of people withdrawing their savings from banks due to the political instability.

At a future date I hope to talk more about the root of Egypt's troubles and the political fight for freedom, but for now, I hope this short post has taught you something new. Have a great Sunday!