1. Egypt under Ismail
Ismail (Governor of Egypt , January 19, 1863 to June 26, 1879) led a notoriously extravagant lifestyle, which cost Egypt an enormous debt. Ismail divided Cairo into the East and West areas by building two new boulevards in the old city and cutting the city into quarters. This is because he wanted to built a Paris on Nile . He brought gas to Cairo in 1870. Under Ismail's rule, a lot of money was spent and this money came from taxing the people heavily and taking large loans from Europe . By 1875, Ismail was under such huge debts that he is forced to sell his shares of the Suez Canal for four million pounds to the British.
In 1875, Ismail's creditors informed him that he owes them 91 million pounds. Ismail could not afford to repay the loans and hence he suspended the payment of interest on loans in 1875. English and French creditors appointed two men to represent their interest to negotiate the loans issue with the Khedive. A special department, Caisse de la Dette Punlique, was set up to ensure the service of the debt. By 1877, more than 60% of all Egyptian revenue went to service the national debt.
Commission of Inquiry
At the insistence of the French, a commission of inquiry was appointed in 1878 to examine all sources of revenue and expenditures. The commission report indicted the Khedival government and suggested limiting Ismail's power as the first step in solving Egypt 's financial problems. The Khedive accepted the commission's conditions and appointed Nubar Pasha as prime minister and asked him to form a government containing two Europeans. Many Europeans were appointed at high salaries in various government departments. Ismail was forced to delegate governmental responsibility to his cabinet which was made independent of the Khedive and responsible for the administration of the country. In short it meant that Ismail lost much of his power.
Opposition to European intervention in Egypt 's internal affairs emerged from the Assembly of Delegates, formed in 1866 by Ismail and from the Egyptian army officers. The Assembly met between January and July 1879 and demanded more control over financial matters. At the same time, a group of Egyptian army officers who opposed the mixed cabinet, protested about the placing of 2,500 officers on half pay. They marched into the Ministry of Finance and occupied the building.
In April 1879, under foreign pressure, Ismail ordered the assembly to dissolve. However its members refused, saying that they represent the nation and would not relinquish their mandate at the order of the Khedive.
Ismail summoned the Europeans and confronted them about the disaffection in the army, the discontent of the delegates and the general public uneasiness. He informed them that he would act according to the resolutions by the assembly and hence he rejected the proposal to declare Egypt bankrupt and stated his intention to meet all obligation to Egypt 's creditors. He also invited Sharik Pasha and together they dismissed the European ministers.
Though the actions made Ismail popular in Egypt, the British and French decided Ismail has to be removed as an obstacle since these actions threatened continued European control over Egypt 's finances. They placed pressure on the Ottoman sultan to dismiss him in favor of his son, Tawfiq. Ismail left Egypt as an exile and died in 1895.
Colonisation of Egypt. © Copyright 2005
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