Is Sisi’s approach to governance helping Egypt?

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi seems to believe he has been authorized by Egyptians to rule exclusively, and that we must keep out of politics until he has accomplished his mission. Egypt is facing numerous challenges, but he is adding to them by having zero tolerance for citizens who simply disagree with him, accusing them of impeding the country’s success. Dialogue and debate are not on his agenda, even though he would be the primary beneficiary.

Sisi, who always wants to assume the role of judge and jury, would do better to play the devil’s advocate in order to understand our challenges from a different perspective. Justifying government mistakes by qualifying them as inherited from previous regimes will not help Egypt advance. He is overly proud of himself. He firmly believes he knows best, and that he alone holds the key to our country’s progress.

His belief that development projects should not be open to public discussion will complicate our problems. Not a single Egyptian – including the prime minister – knows the shape and magnitude of the new capital being built. In the era of flourishing social media, this attitude invites negative speculation by citizens.

The fake roadmap we are pursuing is adding to our challenges. Democracy requires genuine political participation by citizens, sound parliamentary representation, and a functioning rule of law that protects citizens’ rights. None of these exist in Egypt today.

Sisi wants people to remain in the dark until he accomplishes his mission, but distancing genuine politicians from politics to empower himself further is not beneficial to him. Most Egyptians do not mind gifting their country to him as long as he delivers in the end.

Speaking up

As we observe Egypt’s fast deterioration, Sisi’s supporters demand that Egyptians keep quiet to enable him to rule the country better. However, the failures we are facing (sewage blockage, corruption, inappropriate monetary policy, growing internal debt, rising unemployment, inflation, increased restriction of freedom of expression) should prompt Egyptians to speak up loudly. We love our country as much as Sisi does; expressing concern about his polices is the least that honest Egyptians can do.

Foreign politicians often advise Egyptian presidents to rule inclusively, but if Sisi is incapable of listening to his supporters who differ with him, he will never understand the philosophy of inclusivity. The checks-and-balances mechanism, and sharing political responsibilities with others – which are applied in democracies – does not undermine rulers; it empowers them to make sound decisions.

Many Egyptians argue that Sisi’s failure might lead to the collapse of the state. They may be correct, especially in light of the absence of basic, functioning institutions in Egypt. He needs to strengthen institutions, thus enabling our country to stand on a number of strong pillars. Relying solely on Sisi, who has not accomplished any real achievements, could drag Egypt into total collapse. If he insists on monopolizing politics, he must bear sole responsibility.

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