Sunday,18 November, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1386, (22 - 28 March 2018)
Sunday,18 November, 2018
Issue 1386, (22 - 28 March 2018)

Ahram Weekly

Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi

Between 26 and 28 March 59 million registered voters are eligible to cast a ballot and help select Egypt’s next president. They can choose between two candidates — the incumbent Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi who is seeking a second four-year term, and Ghad Party head Moussa Mustafa Moussa. Reem Leila reviews the backgrounds of Egypt&r

Abdel-Fattah Said Hussein Al-Sisi was born on 19 November 1954 in Cairo. He grew up in the Gammaliya district, near the Al-Azhar Mosque, in a quarter where Muslims, Jews and Christians resided. He later recalled how, during his childhood, he heard church bells and watched Jews flock to the synagogue unhindered.

Al-Sisi enrolled in the Egyptian Military Academy. After graduating in 1977 he held various command positions in the Egyptian Armed Forces and served as Egypt’s military attaché in the Saudi Arabian capital, Riyadh. In 1987 he attended the Egyptian Command and Staff College. 

In 1992 Al-Sisi attended a training course at the UK Joint Services Command and Staff College at Watchfield in Oxfordshire. In 2006 he attended a course at the United States Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. He subsequently served as a mechanised infantry commander and then as director of military intelligence.

At 57 he was the youngest member of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) which ruled the country after Hosni Mubarak resigned in 2011.

Mohamed Morsi appointed Al-Sisi as minister of defence on 12 August 2012, replacing  Mubarak’s long serving minister Hussein Tantawi.

On 1 July 2013, after two days of nationwide demonstrations, Al-Sisi delivered a speech giving the government 48 hours to meet the demands of the people — early elections among them. Two days later Morsi was removed from power.

Dissolving the 2012 constitution, Al-Sisi, along with leading opposition and religious figures, proposed a new political roadmap which included the drafting of a new constitution and fresh parliamentary and presidential elections. Morsi was replaced by interim president Adli Mansour who appointed a new cabinet. The interim government cracked down on the Muslim Brotherhood and its Islamist supporters in the months that followed.  In the course of the following year Al-Sisi was named deputy prime minister and promoted to the rank of field marshal.

On 26 March 2014, in response to calls from supporters to run for the presidency, Al-Sisi resigned his military commission and announced he would stand in the 2014 presidential election. There was one other candidate, Hamdeen Sabahi, on the ballot paper. Turnout reached 47 per cent and Al-Sisi won 97 per cent of the votes. He was sworn into office on 8 June 2014.

During his first term he embarked on the economic reforms his predecessors had avoided for years. Subsidies were cut, new taxes introduced and the pound was floated. His term also saw massive spending on infrastructure and other mega projects

In a televised interview on Tuesday Al-Sisi reacted to a short film which included interviews with members of the public complaining about the economic and other difficulties they face in their day to day lives. Talking to his host, director Sandra Nashaat  Al-Sisi listed policy initiatives, including social housing projects, overhauling the supply of subsidized food through ration cards and combating hepatitis C, that have improved people’s lives.

He also said criticisms of the increased economic role being played by the army were unfounded, claiming it does not exceed 2 to 3 per cent of GDP. The army’s intervention in markets was marginal, he said, and undertaken only to stabilise the prices of necessary commodities or manage infrastructure projects to guarantee they are complete in the shortest possible time.

Following a series of Islamist-led attacks on military and police in Sinai and Coptic targets in Cairo and Alexandria Al-Sisi launched Comprehensive Operation Sinai 2018 to combat terrorists nationwide.

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