Some three years after sustained popular unrest led to the demise of the severely authoritarian Mubarak regime, Egypt appears to be no closer to a democratic transition. Rather, the country seems on the brink of reverting to the ways of Mubarak’s iron-fisted rule, with interim President Adly Mansour suggesting that the military regime is on the verge of resorting to even tougher measures than those employed so far against opposition figures and protesters, regardless of whether Islamist or liberals.
Since the army’s ousting of Morsi from the presidency on 3 July 2013 – a move orchestrated by the then Minister of Defence General Sisi – the new regime has cracked down hard on opposition activists. Members and supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, i.e. the party of ex-President Morsi and the military’s main political rival, have been particularly hard hit, with scores of people killed, injured, and imprisoned.
The suspension of the 2012 constitution, the appointment of an interim technocratic government, and the removal of Morsi from office by the military confirmed a fear long held by many that the military had been seeking to maintain its grip on power after the departure of Mubarak, and despite handing over power to democratically elected civilians following the presidential and legislative elections of 2011/12. The concerns over the suspected political aspirations of the military establishment were further strengthened in recent months as a new constitution was rushed to a popular vote on 14-15 January 2014, a move strongly criticized by domestic and foreign monitors. With the overwhelming majority in favour of the military-backed constitution – no less than 98.1 per cent of the valid votes cast – speculations were rife that the military would cease the opportunity and bring forward the date of the presidential elections (originally scheduled to follow after parliamentary elections), while also putting General Sisi forward as an official candidate.
Although Sisi is yet to officially announce his candidature, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) gave the general its blessing to put his name forward in the presidential race, which is due to take within the next few months – and no later than mid-April – in line with the stipulations of the new constitution. Given the currently popularity of Sisi, coupled with the military’s strong grip on power, particularly since the ousting of Morsi, most people are convinced that the next popularly elected Egyptian president will stem from the military. Anything except from a landslide victory to Sisi, regardless of voter turnout, seems unimaginable. Hence, in the space of three years, Egypt has gone from being a case of military-backed competitive authoritarianism to military-led competitive authoritarianism. In short, in Egypt the Arab Spring protests, which cost so many people their lives, seem to have succeeded only in replacing one brand of authoritarianism with another. That is, for now at least, as Egyptians have clearly acquired a taste for people power, although the military is doing its utmost to stifle the opposition, whether democratic or anti-systemic.
 See http://www.newstatesman.com/2014/01/egypt-nation-voted-yes-military-rule-and-yes-moving-forwards. See also http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/01/26/uk-egypt-protests-idUKBREA0O08T20140126
 See http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/egypt/10575772/Egypt-votes-overwhelmingly-for-military-backed-constitution.html
 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-25917452 and http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/01/16/us-egypt-referendum-idUSBREA0F0IZ20140116.
 http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1/64/92963/Egypt/Politics-/Political-groups-react-to-SCAFs-ElSisi-statement.aspx. See also http://edition.cnn.com/2014/01/14/world/meast/egypt-military-rule/