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Sisi has to change tack

Tuesday October 8 2019

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Egypt, which was the theatre of the 2011 Arab Spring, is once again tottering on the edge. The masses are becoming increasingly convinced that the revolution in which so many were maimed and others paid the ultimate price for has not set the country on the trajectory they were desirous of.

And in a show of rare defiance, they have now come out in the open to express their disenchantment with the direction President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is steering their country. But the military general-turned-president would hear none of it. Due to deep-seated corruption and the dictatorial tendencies of the President, Egypt is reeling from a tense weekend of anti-government protests for the second week in a row.

President Sisi has presided over a crackdown since the start of his rule in 2013 and analysts believe he may have neutered opposition and thus may not be in any immediate danger. He is also believed to be enjoying good support from external powers.

In the latest episode, he moved quickly to quash dissent, culminating in the arrest of around 2,000 people in just seven days. Dissent is growing and the masses are more emboldened.

It is high time President Sisi, who is also chairman of the African Union, reflected deeply on his leadership style, not only for the sake of Egypt, but also the continent. Notably, Egypt’s immediate neighbour to the west, Libya, has never recovered from the Arab Spring crisis and is the haven for all manner of malfeasance. To the south, in Sudan, a recent popular uprising uprooted Omar Bashir from power after three decades of unflinching dictatorship, as was the case with Abdelazziz Bouteflika in Algeria.

Africa can hardly afford a replication in Egypt, a state with invaluable geo-strategic and economic significance.