11/04/2008

Situation under pressure in Egypt

This week the European press has shown another face of Egypt. Accustomed to hear about this country when an archaeological discovery happens, or on the occasion of an official visit, very few Europeans perceive the true situation of this country: population growth, poverty, authoritarian and irresponsible government.

Tuesday April 8th municipal elections were held. On this occasion, the anti-government opposition movements organized a general demonstration on April 6 throughout Egypt. Feeling the danger, the government has déployed the security forces to discourage the demonstrators, as it has done for the last twenty seven years, what means since Hosni Mubarak is President and since the state of emergency is applied. Violent clashes have nevertheless occurred in the industrial city of Mahalla el-Koubra located in the Nile Delta.

First movement of the opposition, the Muslim Brotherhood had decided to boycott the elections on April 8th declaring that participation was useless given the anticipated outcome of the ruling party, the National Democratic Party. The movement has also suffered mass arrests in their ranks in recent weeks as well as the disqualification of almost all of its candidates in the municipal elections.

This screed lead imposed by the regime becomes less and less bearable for the Egyptians. Especially since the cost of living increases at alarming rates, subject to the combined effects of inflation and the rising price of wheat and oil. With nearly 40% of the population living below or near the poverty line, these fluctuations have vital consequences.

It is high time for another development assistance to be provided by industrialized countries. By encouraging the intensive cultivation of raw materials for export, they are increasing food dependency of the South towards them. The sharp rise in the price of wheat will cause and is already causing other crises similar to that of Egypt. If we do not immediately make from food and nutrition a priority, it will quickly emerge as such through its consequences.

N.J.O.