One-Time Sisi Supporter Abul-Ghar Criticises Him

By Aswat Masriya

Cairo - A prominent Egyptian politician, who supported Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's bid for presidency in 2014, likened Egypt's current state of affairs to the defeat in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, in an opinion article on Tuesday.

"Twice, I felt hopelessness in saving my country from falling into the abyss. The first was in June 1967 after the heavy defeat that killed my nation and tens of thousands of its soldiers and officers," Mohamed Abul Ghar wrote in the privately-owned Al-Masry Al-Youm.

Abul Ghar heads the Egyptian Democratic Social Democratic Party, which was founded after the 2011 Uprising that toppled long-serving president Hosni Mubarak. The party has only four seats in the 596-seat parliament.

"Now, I have become certain that the chances are slim," he wrote, lamenting the country's "fragmentation", a police that "beats and tortures", cabinet ministers whose presence is "ceremonial" and an economy that has "collapsed" as the Egyptian pound's exchange rate plunged against the U.S. dollar.

He also criticised the president for "working alone", "implementing giant projects without [prior] economic studies" and for delivering a "frustrating speech in which he symbolically announced putting himself on sale."

In a speech he gave in February, to launch of the country's sustainable development strategy, Sisi said he would offer himself for sale if this were possible, urging Egyptians to donate funds to help the economy. Sisi also told Egyptians "do not not listen to anyone else but me," words that were met with fierce criticism, especially on social media.

Abul-Ghar is not the first person in recent weeks to shift from backing Sisi to being critical of him. Ibrahim Eissa, a renowned columnist and TV host who once supported the president, wrote a strongly-worded article criticising him in February.

Prior to becoming president, Sisi was Egypt's defence minister and he led the military ouster of then-President Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013, following mass protests against his rule.

Abul-Ghar was one of the 50 figures who drafted the country's 2014 constitution that was adopted after Mursi's ouster. He and other members of the committee that wrote the constitution held a press conference on Tuesday announcing the launch of the "Egyptian Foundation to Protect the Constitution".

In his article, Abul Ghar also criticised the state's foreign policy. "Our relations with everyone have collapsed. We have even lost our friend Italy." The body of Giulio Regeni, an Italian Ph.D. student at the American University in Cairo, was found in a ditch on the outskirts of the Egyptian capital, marred by torture marks and bruises. A number of media reports accused Egyptian security forces of torturing the Italian student to death, which the Egyptian interior ministry has denied.

Abul-Ghar also criticised Egypt's relations with Arab countries and its policy toward the dispute with Ethiopia over Egypt's share of Nile River water. Egypt has been receiving 55 billion cubic meters of the Nile river's water annually, the largest share, as per colonial-era agreements signed in the absence of Ethiopia, whose Blue Nile tributary supplies most the water.

Source: EMM