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Print Edition> World
UPDATED: May 19, 2014 NO. 21 MAY 22, 2014
Egypt's Foregone Conclusion
A history of rule by strongmen is likely to be repeated with former military chief's inevitable presidential victory
By Liu Yueqin

TOP CHOICE: An Egyptian supporter of former army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi holds the presidential candidate's portrait during a gathering in the capital Cairo on May 10 (XINHUA/AFP)

Egypt is a giant of the Middle East, so the country's presidential election has drawn global attention. The process, which began on March 31, followed through with nominations and registration by April 20. With the election scheduled for May 26 to 27, the final countdown is underway.

Egypt's Supreme Committee of Armed Forces (SCAF) issued a recommendation on January 27 for the presidential run of former army chief and Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Sisi headed the military and toppled elected president and Muslim Brotherhood-backed Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, leaving Egypt under the control of a military-supported interim government ever since. The interim government has supported Sisi's presidential campaign, implementing a series of favorable policies and carrying out well-aligned preparations.

Egypt held a constitutional referendum on January 15, which was followed by interim President Adly Mansour's announcement on January 26 that the presidential election would be held before parliamentary elections. The next day, Mansour issued a presidential decree to promote Sisi from general to field marshal—the highest military rank in Egypt. The move sought to raise Sisi's power and influence enough to accumulate the political capital necessary to win the election. Political turmoil broke out again on February 24, once more, and the Egyptian cabinet was again reorganized. The Egyptian interim government presided by Prime Minister Hazem al-Beblawi declared a group resignation, and a new interim cabinet was sworn in on March 1. Egypt then issued the revised presidential election law on March 8, ensuring a smooth legislative road to the election.

The interim government and the military thus made thorough plans for Sisi's election. Assuming Sisi is successfully elected as president, the ruling power of Egypt will be returned to the military.

The military's strategy

Recalling Egypt's history over the past five decades, a military strongman being elected as the country's president has become a tradition. Famous Egyptian presidents like Gamal Abdel Nasser, Mohamed Anwar al-Sadat and Mohamed Hosni Mubarak all came from the military. Mohamed Morsi was the only non-military president in modern Egypt's history.

Sisi's presidential campaign reflects the influence of the military more than his own political standing.

The country's political battles have been fierce in recent years. When Morsi was elected president in 2012, the military was clearly dissatisfied, but had to deal with the result as Morsi earned 51.73 percent of the total votes. Thereafter, relations between the president and the military grew increasingly tense. The military began planning to overthrow Morsi as soon as he was elected, and the conflicts wouldn't cease until he stepped down. Morsi's fate demonstrated that a government without military support is doomed in Egypt.

Egypt's political games reached a boiling point when Morsi was overthrown on July 3, 2013. As soon as the outcome had been reached, rumors of Sisi's presidential run started swirling. Although the Muslim Brotherhood accused the Egyptian military chief of inciting political disorder, Sisi was not affected. In fact, the military's power grew following the crackdown on the Brotherhood. On February 27, the interim government president reorganized the SCAF and appointed Sisi as the chairman, handing even more influence to the military. And from a historical viewpoint, Egypt's fate has always been under the military's control.

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