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Can Cairo stave off discontent over soaring prices?

Egypt walks a tightrope between reforming its economy through austerity measures without having protests over food prices and food availability tip everything over.
Men queue to buy bread at a bakery in Cairo, Egypt  March 9, 2017. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany - RTS1265T

As pressure builds on Egyptian livelihoods following the devaluation of the pound and the slashing of fuel subsidies in November, some analysts are wondering if another uprising is looming on the horizon for Egypt. They warn that a new wave of unrest would be bloodier than the 2011 uprising and could spell disaster for the country, still reeling from the turbulent post-revolution transition.

Since the Egyptian pound was floated, inflation has skyrocketed to its highest level in decades, reaching almost 30% in January (up 5% over the previous month). Prices of basic food items, medicine, transport and housing have soared, prompting Egyptians to cut spending to make ends meet. The prices of some basic food items have shot up by up to 40%, according to CAPMAS, the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics. President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has more than once exhorted Egyptians to tighten their belts, commending them for enduring “the difficult circumstances” but he has also warned that further cutbacks “are inevitable.”

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