Egyptians freer yet hungrier

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Egyptians freer yet hungrier

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Egypt is measuring its national pride one year after its historic revolution. But in spite of many efforts, poverty is booming, foreign currency reserves are seriously depleted, oil operations are down, Suez Canal revenue is suffering and entire industries and institutions are stalled or closed, notably tourism.

A prominent figure in the progressive front gives further discouraging observations.

Ahmed Maher, one of the co-founders of the April 6 Youth Movement, told euronews: “So far, none of the political objectives have been achieved. Practically the same regime is in power. The same businessmen and deputy ministers and administrative chiefs and apparatus are still there. They haven’t been changed.”

Activists accuse the generals of seeking to maintain political control despite the army’s assurances it will cede power to a civilian authority when a president is elected in June. It has come under intense criticism in recent months for rights abuses and for stifling dissent.

Also, the Islamists’ increasing assertiveness has fuelled the fears of moderates, and their disappointment over wasted momentum.

Moaz Abdulkarim, a member of the Revolutionary Youth Coalition, said: “The revolution attained its objectives within the first 18 days. Since then nothing has been achieved. This is because those in powerful positions are trying to erect a corrupt regime similar to that of Mubarak, since a lot of people profit from it.”

The poor, whose anger galvanised the revolt, are frustrated. The uprising raised hopes. These have been dashed. Food prices are still soaring and work has dried up.

Post-Mubarak Egypt may be freer but it still has 80 million people, 16 million of them struggling to live on around two euros per day.

A woman in Tahrir Square just after the new parliament’s opening said: “I wanted to see real changes in my country. Personally, I haven’t felt a change. The only thing different is that there were elections and the Islamists won.”

A man in Tahrir Square said: “I’m an ordinary Egyptian citizen, with no political affiliations, and I have no personal demands. A year after the revolution we’ve gained nothing. They stole our revolution.”

While speeches against the rich have faded, the humiliation of poverty goes on.

Our Cairo correspondent says: “The blackened condition of the national party headquarters building is the same as it was one year ago, but its members are still running most of the country.”