100 days of new Egypt: Dream come true or nightmare?

On June 30, 2012, Mohammed Mursi became the fifth president of Egypt. Mursi opened a new era in politics. His approach to relations with the neighboring states can be expressed with the following words: "a friend to all." He tries to obtain as much profit as possible from the relationships with other countries, although it is not clear for whom exactly: for his people, for Muslim Brotherhood, the West, or even for Israel.

October 8th marked 100 days from the day when Mohammed Mursi took office as president. On June 30, he presented his program "100 Days", which included 60 paragraphs, divided into five groups. They are vitally important for the public social programs: the struggle against crime, the supplies of medications, food and fuel, clean streets, etc. The program may explain why Mursi paid one of his first visits to Saudi Arabia. The visit gives a hint of whose petrodollars Egypt will use to implement the program.

"All roads lead to Rome." This ancient saying can describe the present condition in the transport network of Egypt. It will sound a little bit different, though: "All roads lead to Cairo." Egypt's transport network is underdeveloped. It employs a huge number of traffic constables due to the lack of road signs and parking lots. Small private stations for quick repairs and canteens severely impede traffic on the roads of Egypt.

It appears that the new Egyptian president has solved the problem. The majority of small stations and fast food cafes were removed from roads, surveillance cameras were put up in cities, road signs and parking lots began to appear.

The main problem remains, though. Cairo, like many large cities, suffocates from traffic jams. In European and American cities, they build bypass highways, suspension bridges with several lanes, other measures to improve the situation are taken too. But all these are temporal measures, because the number of cars is growing, and new highways get jammed soon, just like their "predecessors."

The president has not kept his promise yet to limit the access of trucks to the central squares of Cairo. Road repairs are being conducted 24/7, although Mursi promised that the works would be conducted only at night. The traffic jams warning system has not been created. Other transportation problems of Egypt still remain open, and there is a lot of work to be done at this point.

One of the major domestic problems of Egypt is insanitary conditions. Household waste and construction debris are piled up near houses and on the roads. Eight points from the "100 Days" program touched upon this very problem. The President ordered to establish a hotline for reporting violations in this area. New jobs were created for municipal employees involved in street cleaning; the salaries for those working already were raised. "Cleaning days" were organized, when people took hundreds of tons of debris and garbage out of the city.

Soon afterwards, the initiative came to naught. The Egyptians were tired of "cleaning days," and no one calls the hotline. As a result, the President and the Cabinet of Ministers decided to strengthen the administrative responsibility for the storage of waste in unauthorized places.

Another serious problem of Egypt is food. Nowadays, like hundreds of years ago, the majority of Egyptians eat baladi bread. The production of this type of product has always been unprofitable, but the state always supported its production. Rising prices on baladi bread would always lead to mass unrest. In view of this, this is a priority for Mursi today.

The current president of Egypt decided to reduce the cost of baladi bread production. Bakeries started switching to natural gas and mechanization instead of manual labor.

Natural gas is one of the most popular sources of energy for the production of heating power in Egypt, but there is not enough gas in the country. Prices on natural gas in the country grow constantly, which is obviously not very good news for ordinary Egyptians.

Another stumbling block for Mursi is the issue of people's relations with police. This is a serious issue indeed, taking into consideration the fact that in 2011, police took the side of the ruling regime and participated in violent suppressions of demonstrations. The attitude to police among the population worsened considerably; the number of police officers on the streets decreased. The crime level started growing.

Ahmad Al-Barai, the vice chairman of Ad-Dustur, believes that Mursi put himself in a difficult position by announcing the program. It is almost impossible to solve many economic and social problems in 100 days in such a large and complex country like Egypt.

The people already express their concerns about Mursi's activities. A demonstration of took place in Cairo at the end of August 2012 - about 200 people were participating. The newspaper Al-Masry Al-Yaum wrote that the people accused Mursi of monopolizing power. They also claimed that the power in the country belonged to only one political group - Muslim Brotherhood.

At the same time, according to newspaper Al-Ahram, many opposition parties believe that such a short period of time is too short indeed to change the situation in Egypt. The president should be given more time to achieve his goals. There are many other problems and difficulties in Europe. Mohammed Mursi has been staying in office for only 100 days. He'll have time to change the lives of the Egyptians for the better.

Sergei Vasilenko


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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov