It’s now time to work, El-Sisi tells Egyptians
CAIRO — Egypt’s president-elect, the former army chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, told Egyptians it is now “time to work” to rebuild the economy after he was officially declared the landslide winner of last week’s election, restoring a career military man to the country’s top office.
Thousands celebrated in public squares around the country with cheers, fireworks and pro-military songs after the Election Commission officially announced El-Sisi’s victory with nearly 97 percent of the vote in an election that it said saw a turnout of just over 47 percent.
El-Sisi brings Egypt into a new phase in its tumultuous drama since the 2011 pro-democracy uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak after 29 years in power. The following year, Islamist Mohammed Morsi became the country’s first democratically elected president, only to face massive protests by millions against him and his Muslim Brotherhood.
“I am happy the army is back to power, and that he got rid of the Muslim Brotherhood,” cheered one of his female supporters, Iman Adly, whose face was painted with the Egyptian flag, amid the celebration in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.
But to critics — including many activists who led the 2011 revolt, known as the Jan. 25 Revolution — El-Sisi brings fears of a return to Mubarak’s autocratic state. Already, there have been sharp limits put on the right to protest, secular dissenters have been arrested, reports of police abuses have risen, and the president-elect himself has said many rights must take a backseat to restoring stability.
But some activists vowed the pro-democracy campaign will continue. The youth branch of April 6, a group that was at the helm of the anti-Mubarak protests but was recently banned by a court order, posted a picture of the El-Sisi celebrations in Tahrir, calling it “dancing over the bodies of martyrs.”
“Take the square, do what you want,” it said addressing El-Sisi supporters. “The revolution is coming despite what everything.”
The first world leader to congratulate El-Sisi was Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah. The Saudi king declared that the turmoil sparked by the Arab Spring should now come to a close.
“The brotherly Egyptian people have suffered during the past period of chaos. The short-sighted called it ‘creative chaos,'” the King said in a letter on the Saudi state news agency.
He called for a donors conference to help Egypt “get out of the tunnel,” referring to its wrecked economy. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf allies have already given Egypt some $20 billion in aid, and more is expected after El-Sisi’s win.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was far more restrained in remarks from his spokesman. Taking note of the results, he urged Egyptian authorities to strengthen democratic institutions and practices and called on the president-elect to “do everything possible to support the Egyptian people’s aspirations for a stable, democratic, and prosperous Egypt.” — AP