Arab World: The first hundred days of Brother Morsi
Egypt’s president has failed to live up to his promises to fix the country’s pressing problems, but he is making sure the Muslim Brotherhood dominates the state apparatus.
MOHAMED MORSI, center, prays at Al-Azhar mosque in Photo: REUTERS
Mohamed Morsi, while candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood for president of Egypt,
made many promises.
For example, he would launch Project Renewal, or
Nahda, the brainchild of the Brothers and get the country back on track. But one
promise captured the imagination: “Only elect me, he declared over and over
again, and within 100 days I shall get rid of the five-most vexing issues
affecting the Egyptian people: personal security, out-of-control traffic
paralyzing the roads, the shortage of subsidized bread, insufficient supply of
cooking gas and gasoline, and mounts of garbage throughout the
When he was elected, independent papers duly set up a so-called
“Morsi- Meter” to keep track of the implementation of that particular
When October 8 – the 100th day of his presidency – came, they
reported that there was little or nothing to show for it. A street poll carried
the day before showed that 57 percent of the people were dissatisfied with
Yet on October 6 during the commemoration of the
Egyptian “victory” in the 1973 October War (the Yom Kippur War), the president
boasted that he had achieved 65% of his objectives: Volunteers from the
Brotherhood’s youth wing had collected garbage everywhere, thousands of drivers
had been fined and 500 criminals had been arrested. It wasn’t all that
impressive but the pro-government press hailed him nevertheless. However, the
official Information and Decision Support Center admitted that not much had been
achieved in the first 100 days.
The president had not kept his word on
these five points, but that was not his only broken promise. He had also pledged
to appoint a woman and a Copt as vice presidents but did not do it. Of course, a
year ago the Muslim Brothers had said that they would only field candidates for
30% of parliamentary seats, and would not have a candidate for the presidency –
and then they fought for every seat and of course launched their presidential
Immediately after his election Morsi said he was going to
dissolve the Constituent Assembly where too many Islamists had been appointed in
violation of the constitution, and replace it with an assembly where all
currents would be represented.
That did not happen. The Constituent
Assembly is now near completion of a very Islamic constitution that the people
will be asked to ratify by referendum – unless the five appeals to the Supreme
Constitutional Court are accepted and the Assembly is dissolved with retroactive
effect. A demonstration in Cairo’s Tahrir Square is scheduled for Friday to
demand that Morsi account for his failures.
So what did Morsi do during
these 100 days? According to the independent El-Dostour – “the Constitution” –
daily newspaper, he traveled a lot, visiting eight countries in Asia, Europe and
Africa and New York for the UN Assembly – but only four of the 27 governorates
He took 29 decisions, none of which dealt with the dire state
of the economy and deepening poverty. He prayed in 12 mosques in Cairo, to the
great inconvenience of the faithful because of the stringent security
precautions, and he came with an entourage of no fewer than 30 cars, reminding
people per force of the erstwhile rais (Hosni Mubarak) now languishing in jail.
He made 51 speeches for a total of 30 hours.
El-Dostour adds that he only
grants interviews to American papers and that his words are recorded ahead of
time. El-Wafd, the paper of the political party of that name, claims that during
these first 100 days Morsi did not address any of the critical issues –
education, poverty, health. According to the paper the situation is so bad that
there are people who sell their kidneys – and even their children.
have never been so many suicides.
Yet the government is preparing austerity measures and wants to cut subsidies on essentials.
president is interested in, according to El-Wafd, is what they call the
“Ikhwanization” – from “Ikwan,” “Brothers, of all state apparatus – the
education system, governors of the provinces, judges, ministries and even NGO
such as the Organization for Human Rights. Last week, the president replaced the
head of the Central Agency for Organization and Administration, the country’s
Last but not least he pardoned 26 Islamic
militants judged and sentenced by the former regime for terrorist operations
such as the Luxor massacre in 1997, when 62 people, mostly tourists, were
There is a growing sense of dissatisfaction.
A year ago,
people voted massively for the Brotherhood, the only organized political force.
By the time the presidential election was held, enthusiasm had begun to wane and
Morsi was elected with 25% of the votes – but with abstention at a record
Educated Egyptians know only too well that the Brotherhood’s
ultimate goal is to impose Islamic law – the Shari’a – and to prepare the
restoration of the caliphate. As for the army that ruled the country from the
fall of Mubarak to the presidential election, it is quite likely that it had
concluded a secret deal with the Brotherhood, perceived as the only force able
to prevent anarchy. Whatever the case, there is today a painful
One of the leaders of the Organization for Human Rights, Nagad
Burai, a lawyer, said: “It is still too early after only three months to judge
accurately actions undertaken by Morsi. However, it is obvious that he has no
vision and that his decisions are taken haphazardly with no overall
Alaa Al Aswany, the popular author whose The Yacoubian
Building brought him international recognition, demands that Morsi be confronted
with what is happening: Police officers are still routinely abusing detainees,
independent papers and media are being made to close down, while the
pro-government press hails the leader. “It is as if nothing had changed, in
Egypt after the revolution bar the name of the president: Mubarak is gone, now
we have Morsi,” he says.
Not that the president cares. He is devoting his
energy to foreign policy where success is easier to come by. Foreign trips and
carefully crafted speeches have resulted in very good press coverage and allow
him to claim he has restored Egypt to its rightful place. He condemns Bashar
Assad in Syria and supports the rebels there (mostly Muslim Brothers and
Salafis), works hard to create an Islamic bloc (so far he is not doing too well)
and boasts that Egypt is the undisputed leader of the Arab world. What he tends
to forget is that by distancing himself from the United States and from Israel,
he is jeopardizing his hopes of getting the massive international assistance his
country desperately needs to get out of the abyss.
The writer, a fellow
of The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, is a former ambassador to Romania,
Egypt and Sweden.