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Egypt's new president gives himself high grades

By Sarah El Deeb

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, Oct. 7 2012 2:50 p.m. MDT

Many Egyptians acknowledge that crime rates have dipped since Morsi took office, but remain high when compared to before Mubarak's ouster in last year's popular uprising. Some types of fuel remain in short supply and long lines outside gas stations are common. Traffic remains a problem, particularly in Cairo, a city of some 18 million people, and the streets are still littered with piles of festering garbage.

"The Morsi Meter," a website tracking the Islamist leader's achievements in his first 100 days in office, offered a different take on Morsi's performance in his first 100 days in office.

It said the president's achievements have so far been restricted to implementing penalties for fuel smugglers, raising awareness in speeches and through the media about the importance of proper disposal of trash, increasing the value of flour used to make bread, removing road blocks impeding traffic and implementing a reward system for positive performance of police officers.

The venue of Morsi's speech and the day on which he delivered it appeared to be an attempt by the Islamist leader to associate his presidency with something greater and perhaps more enduring than the ballot box that gave him a narrow victory over Mubarak's last prime minister in a June election.

Morsi chose the 39th anniversary of Egypt's last war with Israel to give the longest speech of his presidency — 1 hour and 50 minutes — seemingly to try to take his place in history as Egypt's first ever civilian president after nearly six decades of de facto military rule.

But Morsi may have overplayed his hand when he drove around the Cairo stadium's track in an open-top car, waving to the crowd like a victorious general. The grand entry and the long speech may also have been designed to stake a claim to something that Morsi was not part of — the high-regard Egyptians have for their troops who crossed the Suez Canal to storm Israeli lines on the east bank of the waterway at the start of the 1973 war with Israel.

The war led to coining in Egypt of the phrase "crossing" as synonymous with victory, and Morsi said the uprising that toppled Mubarak's 29-year rule last year was the "second crossing" after the one in 1973. The third one, he added, was his taking office as Egypt's first freely elected president.

"He turned the national day (October 6) into a platform for his Freedom and Justice party and the presidency," prominent analyst and columnist Abdullah el-Sinawi said. "After nearly 40 years, the occasion has become a platform for the Brotherhood and a show of its strength."

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