Egypt’s Sisi formally submits nomination documents Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi
Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi

Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi

CAIRO. – President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi has submitted his nomination documents to Egypt’s election commission, a day after a potentially serious challenger was arrested over criminal allegations.

Al-Sisi did not submit the documents in person, leaving a representative to do that Wednesday. Images released by his office showed workers taking out of the back of a van boxes bearing the president’s image and the phrase “long live Egypt!” Sisi’s trademark slogan.

The boxes contained “recommendations” from voters who want Sisi to run for a second, four-year term in the March 26-28 vote. Under the constitution, would-be candidates must obtain 25 000 recommendations from voters or secure the support of 20 elected lawmakers to qualify to run.

The military Tuesday arrested former chief of staff Sami Annan over allegations of forgery and breaching military rules. In another isue, the International Monetary Fund declared Egypt’s economic outlook “favourable” on Tuesday after completing its second review of the country’s reform programme.

The IMF had approved in November 2016 a $12bn loan to Egypt, which has been shaken by political and economic turmoil since longtime president Hosni Mubarak was toppled in the 2011 revolt.

In order to obtain the IMF’s approval for the three-year loan, Cairo has implemented a set of drastic reforms including the adoption of a value-added tax, energy subsidy cuts and floating the pound.

“The reforms that have been undertaken so far have been well-implemented and we are beginning to see the pay-off from these reforms,” said Subir Lall, head of the IMF’s mission for Egypt.

“We think that the reform programme and the reform momentum should remain in place,” Lall told reporters in an online briefing.

The IMF disperses tranches of the loan to Egypt based on periodic reviews of the programme. In December, it approved a third tranche worth $2bn, bringing the total released to date to just over $6bn.

In the report released on Tuesday, the IMF said Egypt’s economy grew 4.2% in the year to June 2017, up from 3.5 percent the previous year. Gross domestic product was expected to expand by 4.8% in the current financial year and by 6.0% in the medium term, it said.

Egypt’s inflation rate has started to moderate thanks to tighter monetary policy since peaking in July at 35 percent, after authorities implemented reforms sought by the IMF. It is expected to fall to around 12 percent by June, and to single digits 2019, the IMF said.

The pound’s devaluation saw the Egyptian currency lose about half its value, a factor that also caused inflationary pressure. The IMF report said “strengthening social protection will also be important to shield the most vulnerable.”

“The social aspect of these reforms has made strong efforts to shield the most vulnerable from the cost of up-front macroeconomic stabilisation and those were unavoidable costs,” said Lall. – AP/AFP

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