New leader in Egypt will take tough stance

27 February 2014

With Egypt’s economy continuing to struggle, the new government must live up to its promises

The appointment of former housing minister Ibrahim Mahlab as Egypt’s new interim prime minister is seen as a move to toughen up the government’s stance on the beleaguered economy and the increasing threat of terrorism.

Mahlab’s selection follows the resignation of former prime minister Hazem Beblawi’s cabinet on 24 February. In a press conference the following day, Mahlab promised to combat terrorism, attract investment, eliminate government bureaucracy and tackle corruption.

The change in leadership is also seen as a means of supporting Field Marshall Abdul Fattah al-Sisi’s efforts to become the next president, with many thinking he will officially announce his leadership bid imminently.

Backed by a seemingly stronger and more forthright government, Al-Sisi will hope to legitimately win greater popular support from the Egyptian public in the run-up to the presidential elections expected to take place in April.

There is a general feeling that the former interim government failed to tackle fundamental issues such as fuel subsidies and unemployment. Key industries including tourism are in decline due to terrorism threats and the economy remains propped up by billions of dollars of financial aid from Gulf countries.

This GCC funding will continue to provide the new interim government with some economic breathing space. But to ensure long-term stability, Egypt’s leaders will have to start living up to their pledges.

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