Egyptians will vote for a new president next week.
Expected to win: the former army chief who removed the previous, Islamist president (freely-elected), around 11 months ago.
Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sissi has one man competing with him for the presidency: left-wing candidate Hamdeen Sabahi.
Mohammed Mursi’s government had provoked public anger, and yet instability and violence followed his fall.
Sissi’s crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood supporters of the ousted Mursi has claimed more than 2,500 lives, many of unarmed civilians; more than 16,000 Egyptians were imprisoned.
Courts passed mass death sentences on protesters, after trials that were internationally condemned as unfair.
Sissi promises this election is a roadmap to democracy, but according to an analyst interviewed by our Cairo correspondent, reconciliation remains out of sight.
Against a backdrop in which not only the banned Brotherhood has said it will boycott the poll but also liberal movements, it seems that a majority welcome the election — hungry for stability.
Analyst Hassan Nafaa said: “Egypt now has to establish a modern civil state. If mainstream political Islam decided to take part in that, we would welcome it, but there is a need to define political Islam.”
Hundreds of police, soldiers and civilians have been killed by militants. One Egyptian was killed on Wednesday in a bomb attack in the Sinai Peninsula, and six wounded — last Saturday, three people were wounded in a bomb attack at a pro-Sissi election rally in Cairo. He has not campaigned publicly for the presidency. His inner circle has cited a danger of assassination.
Since the Arab Spring uprising in which president-of-30-years Hosni Mubarak was toppled three years ago, Egypt’s economy — notably including tourism — has suffered from lawlessness. The public debt and unemployment have increased to punishing heights. Power blackouts can strike businesses and households several times per day. There is evidence that consumer confidence continues to fall, in spite of government plans to reform the state-run business sector and attract more foreign investment.
Both presidential candidates have vowed to fight poverty and revive the economy, but that will require collecting resources and restoring security — both elusive goals.