Corruption has worsened in most Arab countries since their 2011 revolutions, even though anger with corrupt officials was a major reason for the uprisings, according to a public opinion poll released on Tuesday.
The survey by Transparency International, a global non-governmental body which studies bribery around the world, appears to dash hopes that the Arab Spring would produce cleaner government and business in the region.
The Arab public’s continued frustration with corruption may undermine governments’ efforts to restore political stability, while hindering economic growth and foreign investment.
Of four countries which experienced changes of government during the Arab Spring, a majority of respondents in three – Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen – feel the level of corruption has risen in the past two years, the survey showed.
In Egypt, 64 per cent said corruption had worsened; in Tunisia, the proportion was 80 per cent. The exception was Libya, where only 46 per cent said the country had become more corrupt.
Within Egypt, 78 per cent of respondents said the police were corrupt or extremely corrupt. The proportion was 65 per cent for the judiciary and 45 per cent for the military, one of the country’s most respected institutions which ousted Islamist President Mohamed Mursi last week sparking a wave of protests.
The survey also showed growing public disenchantment in many other Arab countries which did not experience revolutions but where the Arab Spring has increased political tensions.
In Lebanon, 84 per cent said corruption had worsened in the past two years, in Morocco 56 per cent and in Iraq, 60 per cent. The ratio in Jordan was 39 per cent, while 44 per cent said the level of bribery had stayed the same.
Christoph Wilcke, Middle East and North Africa director for Transparency International, said the police, judiciary and political parties in Arab countries needed to be reformed in order to gain the trust of the public.
In the social and economic turmoil that has followed the Arab Spring, however, governments have had little time or energy to push such reforms.
“There is a contradiction between policy and rhetoric,” said Wilcke.
For example, in an attempt to attract foreign investment the Egyptian government reconciled itself with some members of the former regime of Hosni Mubarak who had been convicted of corruption, he added.
The survey was based on interviews with about 1,000 people in each country between last September and March this year.