The latest bomb attack on a tourist bus in Egypt has called into question the country’s ability to host a safe African Cup of Nations.
With the first game of the Africa Cup of Nations only days away, fears over the security of fans and players have arisen after a mainly South African occupied tourist bus was bombed on Friday May 19th in Egypt, the host country. Thankfully, no fatalities were recorded during the explosion but 12 people were injured. So how does the incident affect the security of the AFCON 2019?
Is there a real security concern in Egypt?
Well before the attack, it is worth saying that the President of Egypt, Abdel Fattah Al-Sissi has extended an already imposed state of emergency for 3 additional months, back on April 25th, 2019. Since April 2017, this is the 7th time the state of emergency is being renewed amongst concerns over security challenges facing the country.
What came as a surprise however was the extension of the emergency law while Egypt is expected to host the biggest African football event of the year, the AFCON 2019, from June 21st to July 19th. The action may also be interpreted as a step towards providing the maximum levels of security during the competition.
In this context, the tourist bus bombing of May 19th, where thankfully no deaths were recorded, comes as a warning that more measures need to be taken in order to avoid such attacks during the competition. It also calls into question the capacity of the country to effectively secure the 24 teams involved in the competition, without forgetting their respective fans.
What is more worrying for the observers is that this is the second incident in the space of six months, after three Vietnamese tourists were killed in a similar attack back in December 2018. On the other hand, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) says there is no reason to panic and backed the Egyptian authorities to be up to the task of hosting a safe Africa Cup of Nations. Up until the incident, the main headline in Egypt was the experimentation of 5G networks during the competition. However, this latest attack has shifted the focus towards security concerns.
The situation is claimed to be “under control”
According to Ndivhuwo Mabaya, DIRCO spokesperson, this latest incident should not prevent South Africans attending the Africa Cup of Nations, nor bring into question the Egyptian’s ability to host the tournament. “We call on South Africans to go in numbers and support their team at the Africa Cup of Nations and believe the Egyptian authorities have the capacity to successfully guard the games‚” Mabaya told TimesLIVE on Monday.
The DIRCO spokesperson further added: “we feel there is no need to panic‚ we have faith in the Egyptian law enforcement agencies to handle the situation and we understand that these types of things do happen. In these situations‚ you should judge a country by its response to the incident and we have complete faith in the Egyptian authorities in this regard.”
The thesis is one of an isolated incident, which, until now, has not been claimed by any faction. The fact is, the country is still living the effects of the Arab Spring and attendances at local league games remain limited and closely monitored by the Egyptian authorities.