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In 2013 an army-backed coup removed the unpopular government of Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood. The new authorities changed the constitution, held a presidential election that massively confirmed Abdel Fatah al-Sisi in power. After a postponement parliamentary elections took place in November and December 2015. The new parliament is unlikely to wield decisive influence.

Though he has come in for sharp criticism from outside, Sisi remains very popular among Egyptians.

The new government embarked from the start on a vigorous crackdown on opposition forces, including Islamists, liberals and human rights campaigners and the press.

The government of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi banned the Muslim Brotherhood and arrested thousands of its supporters, sentencing hundreds to death in mass trials. Morsi himself was handed a death sentence in May 2015.

Some death sentences have been quashed, however, in what may be something of a change of course.

There are mounting concerns about violence from jihadi groups, some tied to ISIS, particularly in the Sinai Peninsula. Dangers were underlined by the bombing of the Russian airliner in the Sinai with the death of everyone on board.

Observers are also worried that more radical elements among Muslim Brotherhood supporters could resort to violence.

The Egyptian economy remains in severe difficulty, with tourist revenues hit by insecurity fears; loans from the Gulf States have tided the government over. The latest figures suggest a return to growth.

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