Egypt: We can’t ignore the impact of the regional situation – President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi

By Laurent de Saint Périer and François Soudan in Cairo
Posted on Friday, 29 April 2016 14:58

The Africa Report: For your supporters, what matters most is not the 25 January 2011 revolution which ousted Hosni Mubarak but that of 30 June 2013 when you overthrew Mohamed Morsi. Is there any link between these two events?

Abdel Fattah al-Sisi: I believe that the willingness to change and the democratic aspirations of the Egyptian people have gradually gained momentum. Since 2014, we’ve held a constitutional referendum and presidential and legislative elections, all of which were transparent and without any interference from the state. Egyptians were able to choose freely.

We have already made good progress on the goals we have set for 2020 and 2030, which include creating infrastructure, roads and housing. We have put an end to the electricity crisis that adversely affected Egypt for eight years. […] Our work in the region of the Suez Canal has created industrial zones covering 40m square metres at the northern entrance of the canal and 200m square metres at the southern entrance on the Red Sea.

You say you are giving yourself 10 years to reach your goals even though the constitution allows you only one more four-year term in office. do you intend to modify it?

Egypt has changed, and its people won’t accept someone they don’t want to remain in power. Egyptians are not docile.

Your government is regularly criticised for human-rights violations and for undermining democracy. Has Egypt again become a police state?

A great deal of these criticisms are unjust. We can’t ignore the impact the regional situation has on our country. We can’t forget that Egypt was governed by political Islam which aims at nothing else but to dominate and to fight. Have people forgotten about the 30 million Egyptians who revolted again the Morsi government in 2013? Have they forgotten that on 3 July 2013 we invited all political forces to cooperate and to participate in this new political journey, but some decided to respond with terror against the state and its agents?

The Egyptian people have not forgotten that there was a threat of civil war

Have they forgotten that the situation was threatening to degenerate into civil war? The Egyptian people have not forgotten. We therefore have to find a balance between our delicate internal situation, a critical regional context and the respect of human rights.

The political and security tensions do not encourage investors and tourists to go to Egypt.

That is exactly the strategy of political Islam, to target the Egyptian economy and especially the tourism sector, which employs millions of Egyptians. How are they and their families supposed to feed themselves now? The people want stability and security. In order to achieve this key objective and return to growth, it is important to differentiate between safety requirements and human rights.

The overall political and economic situation today is very different from that of Western countries. Imagine if we count one extremist for 1,000 individuals. That would be equivalent to an army of 90,000 extremists in Egypt! What do we do then? The views of some Western countries on how to meet these type of challenges are sometimes incomprehensible.

You still depend on financial aid from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries. Can you imagine getting by without them in the future?

It’s difficult to live depending on the assistance of others, however disinterested it is. ●

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