It didn’t take long for the cracks to emerge. Public roars for public demands often went unanswered, or just barely acknowledged, by an increasingly weary looking Sharaf nor by a pressured SCAF. In addition, there were concerns of a return to unpopular practices by the regime.
Revolutionary coalitions complained of security personnel using excessive force on numerous occasions with protesters, the police did not sufficiently do anything to improve its own dire public image, civilians continued to be tried in non-civilian courts, a lack of a clear timetable for the transition to civilian rule persisted, and questions regarding the true freedom of speech and media have been raised once more, among other concerns. But unlike Shafik who absolutely received the immediate blame and responsibility for everything, Sharaf was more trusted by the public. He started to develop a reputation among many people that he was "our man on the inside," a view that he was silently working his best behind the scenes to achieve the revolution’s demands with the cautious military regime uncomfortable with the possible outcomes of radical instant transformations, frequently allowing people to tolerate his silence and his government’s slow pace. "He is definitely better than Shafik," and if he were to be removed now, "SCAF might replace him with someone who might turn out to be a nightmare," many say.
But frustration kept building. Popular demands, such as the trial of former regime figures, the broadcasting of such trials, and even the first steps in overhauling the Ministry of Interior were only granted at the absolute last moment, before major Friday protests and during escalations of the July 8th sit-in, possibly in an effort to deflate the protests and the sit-in, or perhaps in response to the surprising popularity of the demands that the protest build-ups were clearly demonstrating, and one can’t tell which of either answer, including the possibility of both combined, was the true one.
Things then deteriorated further, and as they continued to deteriorate and the military regime began losing some of the unanimous popularity it once held (though it remains overwhelmingly supported by the majority of the Egyptian street), the Prime Minister became cornered. Sharaf came under increasing pressure by the pro-revolution activists and many political forces to resign for what was seen as his continued inability to fulfill protester demands, take strong stances against unpopular policies by SCAF, and a lack of general swiftness in responding to other issues, many of which were not even the domain of the Sharaf government, such as the minimum and maximum wages issue as mentioned. And his frustration and desire to break loose began to reach their tipping point, with the clearest moment being during the July 8 sit-in, when he announced abruptly in a clearly unprepared speech that he "ordered the interior minister to order" the termination of service of all police officers suspected of killing protesters during the revolution.
The speech seemed to display a lack of consultation and knowledge of the legality of such a decision, with the interior minister lashing out the following day against the decision, and even the protesters saying they were asking for the suspension of service, not the termination which was considered as "going too far." It was clear the Prime Minister was trying a last minute resort to try and force the hands of the resistant ministry into that same decision or a more proper version of it, and he failed, much like what appeared to be his very similar unsuccessful maneuver to summon the Egyptian ambassador in Tel Aviv following the border crisis with Israel. Both these situations showed a man who clearly disagreed with the cautiousness of the ruling regime, or at least a man who was getting exasperated with the reversal of his own public image. And according to several popular claims, Dr. Sharaf did try to resign a few times, only to be convinced by the military regime to remain in his position, perhaps in fear of a public chaos or what his resignation could signify to the public at large.
As we supposedly approach the elections and the handover of power to an elected government, opinions remain divided over how to evaluate & understand Dr. Sharaf himself, and also regarding whether or not he should resign. Some argue that he was merely an illusion of what they (i.e. the revolutionaries) had hoped him to be, others argue that he proved ineffectual on his own (despite his best intentions) without popular street and political pressure to support him, and that he needs to resign in protest and solidarity with the call for swift action on the remaining demands. But there are those who believe he is doing what he can and what is possible, and that he just needs to remain where he is. The fact is, despite everything, he remains for the majority a trusted man whose loyalty to the goals of the revolution are not really questioned, one who might be infinitely better than whatever surprising figure that might replace him. He remains, for many, a man significantly closer to the revolution within the close quarters of the cautious gradualism of the military regime. For some, it seems, he is "our man on the inside," whether we can easily tell at times or not, and it is highly unlikely that we would able to truly evaluate Essam Sharaf before at least Egypt’s next president finishes his first term, a transition is complete, and the true history of the transition begins to unmask itself.