Friday 28 November 2014

All hail Egypt's new emperor, but what about the other 7pc?

Robert Fisk in Cairo

Published 30/05/2014 | 02:30

A supporter of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi holds an Egyptian flag while celebrating at Tahrir square in Cairo May 28, 2014. Sisi, the former army chief who toppled Egypt's first freely elected leader, was on course for a sweeping victory in the country's presidential election on Wednesday, early provisional results showed. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany (EGYPT - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS)
A supporter of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi holds an Egyptian flag while celebrating at Tahrir square in Cairo May 28, 2014. Sisi, the former army chief who toppled Egypt's first freely elected leader, was on course for a sweeping victory in the country's presidential election on Wednesday, early provisional results showed. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany (EGYPT - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS)
Abdel Fattah al-Sisi
REFILE - ADDITIONAL CAPTION INFORMATION A supporter of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi holds an Egyptian flag while celebrating at Tahrir square in Cairo May 28, 2014. Sisi, the former army chief who toppled Egypt's first freely elected leader, was on course for a sweeping victory in the country's presidential election on Wednesday, early provisional results showed. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany (EGYPT - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS)
A supporter of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi holds an Egyptian flag while celebrating at Tahrir square in Cairo May 28, 2014. Sisi, the former army chief who toppled Egypt's first freely elected leader, was on course for a sweeping victory in the country's presidential election on Wednesday, early provisional results showed. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany (EGYPT - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS)

Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has won 93pc of the vote in the Egyptian elections. Let me write that again: 93pc! Or 93.3pc if you want to be precise.

This achievement in Egypt's presidential election places ex-Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on a pedestal alongside those other imperishable titans of modern Arab history: Nasser, Sadat, Mubarak, Hafez al-Assad.

Indeed, Sisi's victory is only 7pc less than the total votes collected by that indomitable mother of all presidents, Saddam Hussein, who scored an even more handsome victory of 100pc in the 2002 Iraqi presidential referendum.

No matter that the Egyptian authorities have been forced to admit that the turnout for Sisi this week was less than 46pc, which was not quite up to the 80pc which the great man thought he'd get, and represented only 23.3 million voters rather than the 80 million he confidently expected. And what now of Mohamed Morsi, the genuinely elected Muslim Brotherhood President who in 2012 picked up only 51pc of the vote and who was overthrown by the same man? He still faces years of imprisonment, and perhaps even the hangman. So who will be first in the line-up to congratulate Sisi? King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia to be sure. The Saudis, as all the world knows, are renowned for their democratic traditions. Then the other freedom-loving Gulf Arabs will come along behind the Saudis with promises and praise. Minus Qatar, of course, which still prefers – for now – the incarcerated Morsi. Sisi's greatest Western admirer, Tony Blair, cannot be far behind with his blandishments. And Obama must surely put his head above the parapet. For a president who congratulated Afghanistan's President Karzai after his last, fraudulent, election, it should be easy to smile upon Sisi's assumption of power – with words of American propriety, no doubt, regarding Egypt's "transition to democracy". Few will want to remark on the identity of those – more than 50pc of the Egyptian electorate – who stayed away, although most appeared to be the 2011 Revolution generation, the young and the liberals who also supported Sisi in his 2013 coup but foolishly did not ask themselves whether he might have ambitions of his own. Popularity is a fickle animal, however. Yesterday, in that most famous and drabbest of Cairo's squares – that of Tahrir – Sisi's supporters gathered to celebrate the victory of a president who overthrew his predecessor in a military coup and then sought popularity with vague policies of austerity and appeals to patriotism. Bring your families, the demonstrators were told. Work, family, fatherland. Sound familiar?(© Independent News Service)

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