Egypt: Al-Sisi to stand for President

Submitted by Matthew on 29 January, 2014 - 9:19

The 14-15 January referendum on a new Egyptian constitution returned a 98% majority.

However, only 38% of eligible voters took part. The new constitution will replace the one introduced in 2012 under the Muslim Brotherhood presidency of Mohammed Morsi (voted through on a turnout of 33%).

Despite the low turn out, the result is a major boost to the military-backed regime which has governed Egypt since it deposed Morsi in July 2013. Off the back of the victory, General Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, the man who oversaw the coup, has announced his candidacy for the upcoming presidential elections. Senior military commanders have publicly given al-Sisi their blessing.

State and corporate media waged a massive propaganda campaign in favour of the new constitution, while those who agitated for a no vote faced harassment and arrest. The Muslim Brotherhood, who constituted the largest organised opposition to the new draft, has been forced underground and its leaders have been jailed.

Few dispute that the constitution has at least the passive support of a large portion of Egyptians. Many liberals and secularists view it as a bulwark against Islamism. It is also true that the new draft contains democratic guarantees which the old one didn't — against torture, for freedom of speech to journalists. It declares men and women equal.

But the constitution also represents an entrenchment of the military in government. The army is given the right to appoint the Defence Minister and military spending is placed outside of civilian control. Civilians can be summoned before military courts and the role of the army in public life is enshrined.

Turnout was far lower than 38% among some sections of Egyptian society. Turnout among young people was well below average, despite the mass involvement of young Egyptians in the protests and uprisings of the last three years. This reflects an increasing bitterness amongst the young as the police measures of the old Mubarak regime, the regime so many of them helped topple, begin to reappear.

In the wake of the referendum, there have been suicide and car bombings in Cairo. The government has been quick to blame the Muslim Brotherhood, though the jihadist group Ansar Beit al-Maqdis (Champions of Jerusalem) has claimed responsibility.

Add new comment

This website uses cookies, you can find out more and set your preferences here.
By continuing to use this website, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions.