Morsi loyalists use economy to lobby against government

Pro-democracy supporters are pinpointing the interim government's economic failures and using them to rally the public to their cause.

Morsi loyalists use economy to lobby against government

World Bulletin/News Desk

"We want you to leave because we still must beg money from other countries." "We want you to leave because poor people are not your priority."

These two slogans were used by the opposition Tamarod ('Rebellion') movement before June 30 to encourage Egyptians to sign a petition demanding the ouster of Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi – after the latter had served only one year in office.

The plan worked. People took to the streets in mass protests against Morsi.

In a few days the army overthrew the country's first democratically elected president, suspended the constitution and installed an interim president, who later appointed a new government.

Now pro-democracy supporters and Morsi sympathizers are trying to pay the army-installed administration in the same coin.

They are pinpointing the interim government's economic failures and using them to rally the public to their cause.

"The current regime has brought this country untold economic losses because of the nighttime curfew and state of emergency," Magdi Qurqur, secretary-general of Egypt's New Labor Party, told Anadolu Agency.

"These losses have led to increasing unemployment," he added, citing recent commodity price hikes.

"This is why we invite the public to protest against this government."

Urban inflation in Egypt rose to 10.9 percent in August year-on-year as a result of rising prices for vegetables, beef, poultry, cooking oil and milk, according to state-run statistics agency CAPMAS.

Unemployment is also on the rise, according to most estimates.

"The night-time curfew has affected the operation of factories, particularly those located in industrial cities," agreed Ahmed al-Naggar, member of the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Freedom and Justice Party's economic committee.

Egyptian authorities on August 14 imposed a nationwide state of emergency and a nighttime curfew in 14 of Egypt's 27 provinces within the context of what it now calls a "war on terror."

The military-installed interim government has also launched a massive crackdown on leaders and allies of the Muslim Brotherhood.


Qurqur argued that Egypt's faltering economy had been poised to recover under Morsi thanks to several major projects, including the Suez Canal Corridor Project – all of which were halted in the wake of Morsi's ouster.

Despite opposition claims that Morsi's departure had become an economic imperative, most economic indicators have shown no improvement in the more than two months since his ouster.

Notably, the Finance Ministry and the Central Bank of Egypt have failed to issue their monthly reports on the state of Egypt's economy since then.

But al-Naggar contends that the public does not need official reports to know that economic conditions are getting worse.

"Inflation and local debt have risen in a noticeable manner over the past two months," he told AA over the phone.

"Tourism indicators have also fallen down compared with the months of Morsi's rule."

Egypt's Tourism Minister Hesham Zaazou said earlier that the flow of tourists to Egypt had fell down by 85 percent in mid-August.

Official data refer to overdependence by the transitional government on borrowing from local banks.

The government resorts to issuing treasury bills and bonds in order to bridge the budget deficit.

It issued bonds and treasury bills to the value of 81.5 billion Egyptian pounds in July, according to the Finance Ministry.

The same economic considerations, which had been used by Morsi's opponents to rally the public against him, are now being used by pro-democracy activists to rally the public against Egypt's new military-installed rulers.

Morsi had taken a total of $11 billion in loans and deposits from several countries, including Qatar, Turkey, Libya and Saudi Arabia.

At the time, the anti-Morsi opposition decried such borrowing, calling it "begging from other countries."

Less than one month after Morsi's ouster, however, the new interim government had taken $12 billion in loans, grants and fuel shipments from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

But this time, rather than calling it "begging," Egypt's political forces described the foreign loans and grants as expressions of "brotherhood" and "friendship."

Morsi opponents and supporters now accuse one another of causing the ongoing economic deterioration, with the latter blaming the interim government's heavy-handed security measures for rising commodity prices.

"Only political solutions, not security ones, will calm things down," al-Naggar asserted.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 26 Eylül 2013, 11:20

Muhammed Öylek