Egypt slips in corruption index despite Arab Spring: Transparency International

Corruption ranging from the petty to the grand scale was one of the main grievances that toppled Mubarak. However, hopes that the problem would ease remain far away as people waiting for paperwork complain that low-level graft has become even worse since the uprising because of lax law enforcement.

Mursi has talked of sweeping out corrupt elements in the state and among those doing business with the government.

However, many businesses have been rattled by his remarks, fearing it will mean replacing one elite with another or challenging deals that were agreed in good faith by investors with Mubarak's government.

However, some executives say there are at least a few signs that corruption has become a little less blatant in some areas of business, partly because of a new sense of accountability that has come with Egypt's still incomplete democratic transformation.

Wilcke said that Mursi has made a number of speeches in which he said fighting corruption was a top priority. "But as far as we can tell, very little has happened on the ground in making this a reality, as far as putting in place systems that we know work to prevent corruption," he said. "Strengthening the independence of the judiciary is just one of them."

Wilcke said good work in countries that fight corruption can lead to an initial drop in their ranking because the public is made more aware of graft.

"I would say Egypt has made big promises and taken some small tentative steps," he said. "Anyone who witnessed the transition would agree they are extraordinarily difficult. It's not possible to change things over night."

Mursi is waging a high-stakes battle with Egypt's judges, many of them foes of his supporters in the Muslim Brotherhood, which is bent on purging a judiciary seen as tainted by Mubarak appointees.

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