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Government of Sisi

In the 2018 Presidential election, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi was returned to office for a second term with 97 percent of the vote. His position has been further strengthened by the dominance of the pro-Government Mostaqbal Watn (“Nation’s Future”) party in the Egyptian parliamentary elections that took place in 2020.

Whilst Sisi had been limited to two terms as president under the 2014 constitution, an amendment was made following a 2019 referendum extending Sisi’s term to six years and allowing him to stand for a third term in 2024.

Human Rights

Concerns about the treatment of journalists, opposition groups, and non-governmental organisations in Egypt continue.

This has included the harassment and arrest of critics of the Egyptian Government’s response to the Coronavirus pandemic. It is estimated that there are between 20,000 and 60,000 political prisoners in Egypt and prisons have been found by foreign observers to lack proper sanitation and medical care.

Christians continue to be vulnerable in Egypt, with attacks on new Christian places of worship and discrimination in public life, though foreign governments have noted some positive steps. These include Sisi’s public backing of religious inclusivity and opening the Middle East’s largest cathedral in 2019.

Organisations have also raised the “arbitrary arrests” of LGBT persons and delays in recognising independent trade unions.

31 signatories, including the United States and the UK, criticised the persecution of political opponents in Egypt at the UN Human Rights Council in March 2021.

Terrorism and the North Sinai military campaign

North Sinai has been under a state of emergency since 2014. Wilayat Sinai, a local affiliate of the self-proclaimed Islamic State/Daesh, have claimed responsibility for multiple attacks in the region. 2019 and 2020 also saw terrorist attacks in the Greater Cairo area, carried out by Harakat Sawa’d Misr (HASM) and al-Qaeda allied groups.

Egypt’s international relations

Whilst US criticism of human rights violations was relatively muted under the Trump Administration, the US backing of a joint statement by members of the UN Human Rights Council expressing concern at the trajectory of human rights in Egypt suggests the Biden Administration may take a more critical position towards Egypt.

Both the Trump and Biden Administrations have criticised Egypt’s purchase of Russian fighter jets, the former stating sanctions might be imposed as a result.

Relations with Sudan and Ethiopia have been strained since Ethiopia began the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile River in 2011. Egypt heavily relies on Nile waters. Negotiations are currently stalled, and Ethiopia has said it will continue with the second stage of filling in the Dam despite the lack of agreement.

Egypt’s relationship with Libya has recently stabilised with the formation of a unity Government after a civil war in the country, where the Egyptian Government had offered covert support to one side and seen Egyptian workers kidnapped and harassed.

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