By Shahira Amin for RIA Novosti
Having won the election by a mere 51 percent of the vote two months ago, Egypt’s new Islamist president Mohamed Morsi now has less than a month left to solve all the problems he promised to tackle in his first 100 days in office, and the Egyptian youth and press are not about to let him off the hook: a new Web site called the “Morsi Meter” has been launched to track the president’s performance.
The site’s findings leave much to be desired: the “Morsi meter” now shows Egyptians' satisfaction with what Morsi has achieved so far at just 47 percent. Much of the evaluation has been negative, with critics lamenting that 61 out of a total of 64 electoral promises made by the president remain unfulfilled. There is a “to do” list under each of the five areas outlined in Morsi's “100-day plan,” but so far only three tasks have been ticked off as “accomplished,” while 23 out of the remaining 61 are marked "in progress."
To be fair, Morsi is operating in dire economic conditions, as analysts warn that Egypt is on the brink of economic disaster. A series of interruptions and strikes that have taken place since the revolution resulted in a marked drop in productivity, while political turmoil and the shaky security situation have scared off foreign investors and tourists. Unemployment in the country has soared to 20 percent, and foreign currency reserves are at a dangerous all-time low.
The Egyptian officials have turned to the IMF seeking a $4.8 billion loan, but the rescue package would be conditional on a set of painful structural reforms, including the devaluation of the Egyptian pound, the rationing of fuel and bread subsidies and tax reforms. Thus another crippling, interest-based loan is the furthest Morsi can get from meeting the Tahrir pro-democracy activists' aspirations for economic independence and an end to Western subordination.
Against this backdrop, Morsi’s accomplishments so far seem small. The sole achievement in the realm of security has been a reshuffle of Egypt's police force: 600 senior police officers have been dismissed, 37 of whom were involved in the killing of more than 800 protesters during last year's mass uprising. Yet even this move falls short of the anticipated major purge of Hosni Mubarak loyalists and officers notorious for their brutality. The Egyptian media is also still rife with reports of kidnappings, assaults, car theft and burglaries, and there has reportedly been a surge in sexual harassment on the streets of Cairo, according to local NGOs that work with sexually assaulted women.
Progress has been made in the “street cleanliness” category, with the recent “Homeland Cleanup” campaign earning Morsi some points. The initiative, publicized on the Muslim Brotherhood's Web site, saw political leaders, members of civil society and youth join forces in a coordinated effort to rid the streets of garbage and create green spaces. But while the campaign has been hailed as "welcome community engagement," it stopped short of solving the country's chronic waste problem.
Meanwhile, Egyptians’ patience is getting stretched thin by frequent power outages. Prime Minister Hisham Kandil's suggestion that citizens "wear cotton clothes to better cope with the soaring temperatures during electricity cuts" has earned him many an enemy. Neither has there been any relief in traffic congestion, aggravated by aggressive drivers and continued protests.
All this is not to say that Morsi has done nothing for Egypt. His recent visit to China has boosted Chinese investment in the country to $2 billion over the next three years (from the original $500 million). The president will soon be heading to Europe, the United States and Brazil, seeking more investment after he failed to secure financial support from oil-rich Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, Morsi's recent trip to Iran for the non-aligned movement summit was a warning to wealthy Gulf states and the West that Egypt may align itself with the Islamic republic if the latter fail to deliver on their pledges of financial aid. In his NAM summit speech, Morsi also blasted Bashar al Assad’s Syrian regime for "its oppressive policies,"thus earning praise from revolutionary forces at home.
While Morsi’s supporters try to draw attention to his "sizeable accomplishments" of the last two months, including freeing Egypt from the tight grip of the military and wresting legislative and financial powers from the hands of the generals who ruled the country in the transitional period, his his opponents still see the status quo in a different light: they are increasingly concerned about attempts to "Islamize the state" and warn of "a reversal to Mubarak-era tactics of silencing voices of dissent." Some are even calling to "rid the country of the Muslim Brotherhood's rule."
The views expressed in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.
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