The U.S. has offered support for embattled President Mohamed Morsy, provided Egypt falls in line and follows the tough economic prescriptions of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Visiting U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry made it plain during his visit to Cairo that Egypt would have to agree to painful IMF conditions if it is to avail itself a life-saving $4.8 billion loan.

With little room for manoeuvre, Mr. Morsy has found himself in a tight corner. In case he accepts the harsh loan conditions — slashing of energy subsidies and a steep hike in taxes — the President risks deepening social unrest among his people, who are looking for economic relief, two years after a turbulent revolution. Conversely, if he doesn’t accept the debt, he risks collapse of the economy. Analysts point out that once the IMF loan is through, Egypt could raise bilateral loans from U.S. and Europe, but this could, conversely, lure Egypt into a debt trap.

By way of political incentive, Mr. Kerry backed Mr. Morsy’s controversial call for fresh parliamentary elections, slated to begin on April 22.

Retrial of Mubarak

A decision taken on Sunday by an Egyptian appeals court for the retrial for former President Hosni Mubarak on April 13 — nine days ahead of the polls — is likely to impact the elections. Mr. Mubarak faces charges of corruption and conspiracy to kill protesters during the 2011 uprising that led to his fall.

The retrial has been ordered after a court had earlier accepted Mr. Mubarak’s appeal against the life sentence that he is serving following his conviction last June.

Others who will face re-trial include former interior minister Habib al-Adly, who was sentenced for life for his role in the killing of dissidents. The former President’s sons, Alaa and Gamal, who were acquitted in June, will now be retried on corruption charges.

Mr. Kerry held separate talks with opposition leaders, which included a meeting with former presidential hopeful Amr Moussa, to reinforce his message of support for the polls.

He also had a telephonic conversation with Mohamed ElBaradei, another political heavyweight, who has become Mr. Morsy’s visceral critic. Hamdeen Sabbahi, who stood third in the presidential race, chose not to attend the group meeting with Mr. Kerry.

There have been small but colourful street protests against Mr. Kerry, who has been perceived by some of having a soft-corner for the Islamist president, and the Muslim Brotherhood, Mr. Morsy’s parent organisation.

  • Egyptian President faces painful IMF prescription

  • In return, Kerry backs election call