Governor of Egypt's 2nd largest city resigns over flooding

AP News
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Posted: Oct 26, 2015 11:14 AM
Governor of Egypt's 2nd largest city resigns over flooding

CAIRO (AP) — The governor of Egypt's Alexandria has resigned over a poor response to flooding that devastated parts of the Mediterranean port city following a weekend rainstorm.

Hany el-Missiry's resignation, announced by government spokesman Osama Abdul-Aziz late Sunday, followed the death of at least six people as a result of the flooding in Alexandria, five of whom were electrocuted by a fallen power cable.

The deaths, which included two children, have led to scathing criticism in the media of the government's negligence and underlined the poor condition of infrastructure in a country of some 90 million people.

El-Missiry, a native of Alexandria, was named the city's governor less than a year ago. Photos of him cycling and taking part in watersports had created a stir on social media and gave many hope that he belonged to a new breed of officials who could creatively tackle the problems of the city, from traffic congestion to drainage systems and shanty towns.

Images from Alexandria published in Monday's newspapers showed residents traveling in boats on streets-turned-rivers, cars almost completely submerged and residents walking in knee-deep water.

Affectionately referred to as the "Bride of the Mediterranean," the ancient city was once Egypt's most cosmopolitan and vibrant metropolis, but that changed when Europeans who had lived there for decades left in the 1950s and 1960s as the country's socialist and anti-Western policies began to take root under the late leader Gamal Abdel-Nasser.

"We are drowning in negligence," screamed the front-page headline of the daily Al-Youm Al-Sabaa on Monday. "The government drowns in Alexandria," was the banner headline in another daily, Al-Shorouk.

The Alexandria flooding capped a series of crises over the past week, including the weakening of the Egyptian pound, a shortage of foreign currency needed to finance imports and an unusually low turnout in parliamentary elections that has raised questions about the country's political direction under President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who ordered the army on Sunday to join the government's campaign to aid the city.

El-Sissi chaired an emergency Cabinet meeting Monday to discuss the flooding and other pressing issues, with his office saying in a statement that authorities said the city had received six times more rain in a short period than in a normal full day.

The statement said El-Sissi stressed in the meeting that the causes of the flooding must be addressed, while sewage and drainage systems must be inspected regularly and emergency plans drawn up before events occur. He also emphasized that compensation will be paid out to the families of victims, it added.

Separately, Egyptians residing abroad returned Monday to ballot boxes at embassies and consulates to vote in runoffs for more than 200 seats in a new parliament. Back in Egypt, voters in 14 provinces will do the same on Tuesday and Wednesday. The first round of voting abroad and at home was held last week.

Elections in the remaining 13 provinces will be held next month and the new, 596-seat legislature is expected to hold its inaugural session in early December.

The new legislature will be Egypt's first since 2012, when a court ruled to dissolve a parliament packed by Islamists. The new chamber will also be the first since el-Sissi, as military chief, led the 2013 overthrow of Egypt's first freely elected president, the Islamist Mohammed Morsi, following mass street protests against his rule.