Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi finally declared his candidacy for re-election in March and pledged a “transparent” election process. The widely-anticipated announcement came at the end of a three-day conference that focused on the president’s record since he was elected in a 2014 landslide. With no formidable challenger on the horizon, and given the support he enjoys among many Egyptians as well as from the country’s security institutions, another victory for the former military chief seems all but assured. “If you think that I gave my maximum energy with you and want to return the favor to me, all I wish from you and regardless of your choice is to show the world your participation in the vote and choose whoever you want,” El-Sisi said in a speech aired live on TV.
El-Sisi, 63, has spent his first four years in power adopting tough steps backed by the International Monetary Fund to reform the economy, while cracking down on Islamists as well as political opponents and other critics of his policies.
He secured tens of billions of dollars in aid and grants, including a $12 billion IMF loan, and lifted currency controls to ease a dollar shortage that crippled businesses. But the weakening of the Egyptian pound after it was floated, along with deep cuts in energy subsidies, propelled inflation to more than 30 percent, deepening hardship in the already impoverished nation.