In Egypt, Economic Crunch Looms with New Constitution; Many Are Hoarding Dollars, Fearing Their Nation's Currency May Weaken
Aya Batrawy; Sarah El Deeb, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)
CAIRO The official approval Tuesday of Egypts disputed, Islamist- backed constitution held out little hope of stabilizing the country after two years of turmoil, and Islamist President Mohammed Morsi may now face a more immediate crisis with the economy falling deeper into distress.
In a clear sign of anxiety, a combination of the turbulence of the past month and expected austerity measures ahead have some Egyptians hoarding dollars for fear the currency is about to take a significant turn for the weaker.
The battle over the constitution left Egypt deeply polarized at a time when the government is increasingly cash-strapped. Supporters of the charter campaigned for it on the grounds that it will lead to stability, improve the grip of Morsi and his allies on state institutions, restore investor confidence and bring back tourists.
In times of change, politics are the driver of the economy and not the other way around, said Mourad Aly, a media adviser for the political arm of the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood, the backbone of Morsis presidency and the main group that backed the constitution.
But there are already multiple fights on the horizon.
The U.S. State Department bluntly told Morsi it was now time to make compromises, acknowledging deep concern over the constitution.
President Morsi, as the democratically elected leader of Egypt, has a special responsibility to move forward in a way that recognizes the urgent need to bridge divisions, build trust, and broaden support for the political process, said Patrick Ventrell, acting deputy spokesman. …