Muslim Times(Web Desk) – Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has been sworn in as Egyptian president for a second four-year term in office as the North African country has hard time dealing with major economic and security challenges.
A former intelligence chief and defense minister, 63-year-old Sisi swore the constitutional oath of office in front of the Parliament of Egypt on Saturday morning, starting another four years in office, some three months after securing 97 percent of the votes in a nationwide election without serious competition in his run for re-election.
He swore the oath at a special and packed session of parliament, after parliament speaker Ali Abdel-Aal convened the house in accordance with Article 144 of the 2014 constitution and Article 109 of the parliament’s rules of procedure.
Sisi came to power in 2014, a year after he led the military to oust Egypt’s first competitively-elected president Mohamed Morsi in a coup. He served as the defense minister in Morsi’s government before orchestrating the putsch.
On April 2, the election commission said that Sisi had won a total of 21.8 million votes in the March election. His sole opponent, Moussa Mostafa Moussa, a relatively unknown and a fervent Sisi supporter himself, gained 656,534, less than the 1.8 million spoiled ballots.
The turnout in much-criticized election was 41 percent, lower than the 47 percent recorded four years earlier. That could be a potential setback for Sisi who sought to portray the election as a referendum on his efforts to overhaul Egypt’s economy over the past years and root out terrorism in the North African country.
The vote was also marred by allegations that real contenders for the election pulled out from the race because of an intimidation campaign by the government. Serious opposition contenders halted their campaigns in January while authorities arrested the main challenger whose campaign manager was also beaten up.
During the past few years, Sisi has faced growing criticism about his way of treating dissidents, especially those linked to Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood movement, which Sisi outlawed right after taking office.
Some seven years after the January 2011 uprising that led to the ouster of Hosni Mubarak from power, Sisi will have two major challenges to tackle in his second term: economic recovery and security, particularly in northern parts of the Sinai Peninsula, where a a terror group affiliated with the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group is at large, killing government troops and civilians alike, and economic recovery.
Sisi, who had initially vowed to eliminate terrorism, has failed to fulfill his pledge to this day. Just last November, Daesh-affiliated militants targeted a mosque in Sinai and killed over 300 people — the deadliest attack in Egypt’s recent history.
On the other hand, human rights groups and activists have constantly accused Sisi of violating public freedoms and suppressing opponents. Most of his opponents and vocal members of civil society have also been arrested in the past few months.
Rights groups say the army’s crackdown on Morsi’s supporters has resulted in the deaths of over 1,400 people. About 22,000 others have been arrested, including some 200 people who have been sentenced to death in mass trials.
The incumbent president also triggered intense criticism and controversy at home in April 2016 by handing over the strategic Tiran and Sanafir islands in the Red Sea to Saudi Arabia, in a move interpreted as his government’s obedience to the Riyadh regime.
Sisi’s government has also been part of the Saudi-led coalition that has killed some 14,000 Yemeni people since the start of the war three years ago.