Now that Egypt has elected (and inaugurated) its new president, Egypt Elects is continuing to monitor a number of developing stories, including President Morsi’s meeting with Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Khalid al-Hamad al-Sabah – the first foreign official to meet with Morsi since his inauguration. The implications of this meeting speak volumes about Egypt’s regional positioning under a Morsi administration. Egypt Elects is also monitoring the on-going dispute between the Brotherhood and the courts regarding the dissolution of parliament, which continues to escalate following Judge Tahani Al-Gabaly’s recent statement accusing Morsi of violating the constitution by inviting members of parliament to his Cairo University speech on Saturday. ”The president cannot come to power through constitutional legitimacy and then turn against it,” said Al-Gabaly, who is the deputy head of the Supreme Constitutional Court, adding that “[Morsi] is not empowered to cancel the [dissolution of parliament].”
Egypt Elects will continue to monitor these stories as they unfold, but today we wanted to focus on another, perhaps less visible story that caught our attention. President Morsi cancelled all motorcades for his staff, family and other senior officials. The reason? So as to not inconvenience drivers on the streets of Cairo with the awful traffic that is a by-product of motorcades. Rather than travel in a motorcade of security vehicles and motorcycles, Morsi is going to travel like everyone else. As he said: “gone is the time of processions and lined-up security officers.”
The traffic in Cairo ranges on a scale of bad to worse, and improving traffic congestion proved to be a common promise made during the parliamentary and presidential campaigns. Many observers, Egypt Elects included, viewed these promises as nothing more than pandering, but it appears as though we were wrong (or perhaps continue to be right). Morsi’s move is brilliant – he is simultaneously holding true on a campaign promise while also making a grand gesture for the sake of public approval (which he desperately needs because he just did away with much of his security).
Moreover, by positioning himself as a “man of the people”, he is further distancing himself from the SCAF and the ways of the Mubarak era. And the less people see Morsi surrounded by police and the military, the less they will make that association. In fact, any future traffic jams caused by motorcades and security will almost certainly be blamed on the SCAF – another victory for Morsi in his continued power struggle with the military.
By simply shedding some security, Morsi has in effect fortified his standing among the constituencies that helped elect him – the constituencies he will badly need as he continues to vie for additional legitimacy and power. It just goes to show that, in Egypt, all politics is local, and if Morsi can continue to win over the Cairo street, he will be well positioned for a successful presidency.