Egyptian President Sisi sworn in for third term

69-year-old former army chief is set to remain president until 2030

CAIRO  -  Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was sworn in Tuesday for his third term as leader of the Arab world’s most populous nation.

In power for the past decade, the 69-year-old former army chief is set to remain president until 2030. 

Speaking before parliament, Sisi vowed to “remain faithful to my work, my eyes seeing only your interests and this country’s”. As Egypt has bat­tled a deep economic crisis with the help of billions in overseas loans and investments, he pledged “to realise the aspirations of the Egyptian nation to build a modern, democratic state”. He won a December election with 89.6 percent of the vote against three relative unknowns, after opposition challengers were sidelined or jailed.

The six-year term is set to be his last, unless he again ushers through a constitutional amendment prolong­ing his tenure. 

In his inaugura­tion speech before parlia­ment, Sisi said he “renews his vow to continue on the course to build the nation”. Then-defence minister Sisi rose to power on the back of mass protests against Islamist president Mohammed Morsi, who was deposed in 2013. Sisi was elected president the following year and then again in 2018, both times with around 97 percent of the vote. Pundits have speculated about an impending cabinet reshuffle, which the government has not yet an­nounced. Tuesday’s oath also marked the inauguration of Egypt’s New Ad­ministrative Capital, located in the des­ert east of Cairo, local media reported.

The $58-billion megaproject is the crowning jewel of Sisi’s administra­tion, which has poured billions into Egypt’s infrastructure but has been criticised for massive debt-fuelled spending. Cairo’s foreign debt bill has more than tripled over the past de­cade to a record $165 billion, accord­ing to central bank figures, while for­eign currency reserves stand at $35 billion. For the past two years, Egypt has struggled to contain the fallout of a punishing economic crisis that has seen the currency lose two-thirds of its value and inflation soar to a record 40 percent last year.

In the first quarter of 2024, how­ever, Egypt saw an influx of over $50 billion in loans and investment deals, which Cairo has said will ease dire foreign currency shortages and revitalise the economy. The United Arab Emirates announced in Febru­ary a $35-billion land development deal for Egypt’s Ras al-Hikma, which the International Monetary Fund said could “help Egypt rebuild buffers to deal with future shocks”. A flurry of agreements followed, with the IMF more than doubling a $3-billion loan, and the European Union and World Bank pledging fresh financing.

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