Protests erupt in Egypt calling for the resignation of Sisi
The streets of Egypt have erupted into a state of unrest as thousands of protesters have taken to the streets across several cities in Egypt, in a rare show of dissent against President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Gathering in Cairo’s Tahrir Square late on Friday, the demonstrators chanted slogans such as “the people demand the fall of the regime” and “leave Sisi”, echoing the chants that rang out in the same place more than eight years ago and which brought down longtime leader Hosni Mubarak. A heavy security presence was also maintained in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the epicentre of Egypt’s 2011 revolution. Such demonstrations are rare after Egypt effectively banned protests under a law passed following the 2013 military ouster of Islamist ex-president Mohamed Morsi. But discontent over rising prices has been swelling in Egypt, where Sisi’s government has imposed strict austerity measures since 2016 as part of a $12-billion loan package from the International Monetary Fund. Nearly one in three Egyptians live below the poverty line on less than $1.40 a day, according to official figures released in July. However this discontent alone never sparked such protests, and it took the speaking out of several famous business-men and political figures against Sisi to bring the protests about.
Sisi denies accusations
After a statement released by famous Egyptian businessman accusing Sisi of corruption, Sisi was swift to deny such accusations, assuring he was “honest and faithful” to his people and army. The man behind these accusations, 45-year-old construction contractor Mohamed Aly, claims that authorities have misappropriated millions of Egyptian pounds in public funds. He also alleges the military owes him hundreds of millions of pounds for projects his company was commissioned to build, including palatial residences for Sisi. Sisi told a youth conference in Cairo on Saturday the accusations were “lies and slander” designed to “break the will (of Egyptians) and make them lose all hope and confidence”. Meanwhile, it appears president Sisi has not been too concerned with the eruption of protests as he arrived in New York on Saturday morning for a several-day visit, during which he will participate in the meetings of the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly. President Sisi will also hold a series of bilateral talks with a number of presidents and government heads participating in the United Nations General Assembly meetings in New York. His reaction will be clearer once he returns to Egypt and is faced with the protests first hand.
Trump stands by Sisi
Despite the widespread criticism of Sisi within Egypt and across the Arab world for his authoritative and possibly corrupt leadership, US President Donald Trump has appeared to stand by his side, as he considers him “a very important element” to the United States in maintaining the region’s stability, which he said earlier this month. Before calling Abdel Fattah el-Sisi a “good man” and a “great leader” during a meeting at the G7 summit in France last month, Donald Trump asked referring to the Egyptian president: “Where’s my favourite dictator?” Despite the rampant abuses that Washington acknowledges in the US State Department’s report on human rights, Trump has formed a strong relationship with Sisi, often praising him as a good, “tough” leader. Furthermore, When the two met in New York last year, the US president congratulated Sisi for doing an “outstanding job”. Trump has yet to comment on the eruption of protests in Egypt but it seems he will maintain his support for Sisi for now.