As president concludes first year, supporting intelligentsia voice discontent

As President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi approaches the end of his first year in office next month, rare signs of discontent have been exhibited by his supporters among the media and political elite who suggested the president is risking losing his popularity because of his failure to adopt policies favoring the common public.
“President al-Sisi has not made a decision that could change the lives of Egyptians since he assumed presidency,” media host Ibrahim Eissa, an all-time wholehearted backer of Sisi’s presidency, said in his show on the satellite TV channel ONTV late Tuesday.
Sisi enjoys an “unprecedented consensus among Egyptians,”  according to Eissa, who said that despite that “popularity”, the pace of reform is “slow”.
“There is not the least surprise in the decline in President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s popularity,” wrote Abdallah al-Sennawy, a political analyst and columnist close to the presidency.
“He (the president) himself had predicted that decline when he ascended to the presidency seat,” Sennawy wrote in a column at the independent Al-Shorouk newspaper Wednesday.
Though, according to Sennawy, that decline was naturally foreseen given the poor economic conditions and rising tide of terrorism, it is now “beyond normal”. Sennawy said that while the president gives the utmost attention to details, the state’s policies lack “ a general view”.
“We have a president, but there is no system. Neither did the state complete its institutions according to the future roadmap,” Sennawy wrote.
Egypt has yet to run parliamentary elections which were initially scheduled for March but postponed over the unconstitutionality of the election law.
Sennawy described the current government, based on its economic policies, as “closer to a proxy for businessmen”. He said that influential, Mubarak-era economic powers have resurfaced again under the current government. “In the absence of a vision, the past has filled the vacuum in politics, economics and the media”.
Egypt has been recently criticized by the International Monetary Fund for backtracking on a tax that was to be imposed on stock market capital gains. The IMF suggested that the decision meant that Egypt’s economic policies were leaning towards the benefit of the rich, at the expense of the poor.
“Posters linked him (Sisi) to Gamal Abdel Nasser, but his economic policies are re-electing Hosni Mubarak once again,” Sennawy wrote, arguing that the president failed to eliminate social injustice.
Abdel Halim Qandil, another writer and columnist known for his support of Sisi’s ascension to presidency, also voiced discontent with the president’s policies concerning social and economic justice.
“Who is governing this country, making decisions and standing up for thieves?” Qandil wrote in the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper last Sunday.
“You might say it is the government…that’s not true…the real decision-maker is president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi,” Qandil said, adding that the president has been implicated in decisions that take away from his “achievements stock” and “drain his popularity”.
According to Qandil, a fierce opponent to former presidents Hosni Mubarak and Mohamed Morsi, the recent appointment of judge Ahmed al-Zend as justice minister was “unimaginable, even in the worst nightmares,” adding that Zend is a well-known figure of what he described as “the Mubarak clique” who “never conceals his animosity towards the 2011 revolution”.
Zend replaced resigned minister Mahfouz Saber who had been met with a torrent of criticisms for stressing that social background was vital when it comes to appointments at the judiciary. Saber’s remarks were made following reports that over 100 applicants for judicial jobs were shunned because of their parents' educational and social status.
“To date, the president has not approved the appointments,” Qandil wrote, adding that the president dishonored recurrent pledges to give priority to youths.
Qandil, too, attacked the president for tolerating the cancellation of the stock market gains tax.
“No voice in this country is higher than that of thieves who defeated the president by imposing Zend as justice minister and obliging the cancellation of the stock market tax,” wrote Qandil.

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