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Sunday, 25 March 2018

Foreign media feeding frenzy on Egypt presidential election continues

The foreign media is still in a feeding frenzy over Egypt’s presidential elections, which are now only one day away. Reuters quotes President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s Friday remarks in defense of his “tough austerity measures,” while the Times notes that he said he would have liked to see more opponents in the race, and All Africa breaks down the voting process.

Bews outlets continued to address the elections in a sharp tone, criticizing the two-man race and noting that the result will unquestionable be in El Sisi’s favor. “The mystery, then, is why Mr. Sisi is acting like a man with something to lose,” muses the New York Times’ Declan Walsh. “While the vote is expected to be a stage-managed confirmation, along the lines of those in China and Russia last weekend, it has exposed a rumble of discontent inside the security establishment that appeared to rattle Mr. Sisi.” Meanwhile, the Associated Press says that “the bigger picture is that in the Middle East as a whole, democracy has largely failed to take hold.”

Egyptians’ use of “grim satire” on social media to poke fun at the abundance of posters supporting President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s re-election bid, the AP also notes, while a “bipartisan group of US foreign policy figures” are calling on the White House to abstain from praising the presidential elections in Egypt. Their requests will likely fall on deaf ears, the Washington Post opines.

Elsewhere this morning: Times reporter Bel Trew was detained and questioned for seven hours before being put on a plane out of Cairo, where she had lived and worked for seven years, according to The Times. No immediate official explanation was given for her detention and no charges were brought against her, she writes for the newspaper for which she has reported since 2013. The Guardian, Reuters, and WSJ also have coverage.

The move to partially privatize Egypt’s railways is a sign that the country may be over its fear of the dreaded “P” word, writes David Awad for Al Monitor. Involving the private sector in management is a way “to fight corruption, bureaucracy, ill-planned decisions and the lack of accountability for mistakes in the state’s administrative institutions,” says Cairo University economic law professor Ayman Abdul Mordi. However, there remains throwbacks who cling on to the problems privatization faced back in the 1990s. Some, including former Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies researcher Abdul Khalek Farouk believe the move could open the door to lost state revenues and the wholesale sacking of workers.

Also in the headlines this morning:

  • Transparency International Defense and Security is calling for Egypt to make clear its total defense spending in a report issued on Friday (pdf). In a statement that accompanied the report (pdf), Transparency International called on Western countries to make foreign military aid to Egypt conditional on greater transparency.
  • Ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi has been “forgotten by most in the international community,” his son writes in a piece for the Washington Post.
  • Rooftop gardens in Cairo could provide an alternative source of food for the city’s residents as rapid population growth, urbanization, and the degradation of agricultural land make green spaces rare, according to the US Department of Agriculture.
  • The fear of stigmatization keeping many Egyptians from testing for HIV due to its “association with immoral behavior” is allowing the disease to spread in Egypt, Al Monitor’s May El Habachi says.

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