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Sisi is the president of panic and must go, says Egypt rival

In first interview for a year, Strong Egypt party leader Abdel Moneim Aboul-Fotouh says country lives under 'security, media and political siege'
Abdel Moneim Aboul-Fotouh during an interview in Cairo in 2011 (AFP)

A leading Egyptian opposition politician and former presidential candidate Abdel Moneim Aboul-Fotouh called on Egyptian president Abdel Fatah al-Sisi to step down condemning his policies and the conditions the country has reached.

In interview with the Anadolu news agency on Friday, Fotouh said that Sisi has created a "republic of panic" which has failed to bring about any significant developments in Egypt. 

In his first interview in more than a year, Foutouh called for elections to be held in 2018 and said that Sisi’s mismanagement of Egyptian affairs and his implementation of a “security, media and political siege” of the Egyptian people are enough reasons to bring him down.

He said the alternative was a coup or chaos.

“It is better if Sisi steps down since he has clearly failed to manage the country and steer it in the right direction."

Aboul-Fotouh, a medical doctor by training, was once a member of the Muslim Brotherhood's Guidance Bureau before formally quitting the organisation before running for president in 2012 as an independent candidate.

After the elections in which he came in fourth place, he established the Strong Egypt party which boycotted the country’s recent parliamentary elections, calling the democratic standards in the country inadequate.

Fotouh had supported the 30 June protests which led to the removal of Mohamed Morsi - Egypt's first elected president who hailed from the now outlawed Muslim Brotherhood - in a military-led coup on 3 July 2013. 

He has made several calls for early presidential elections over the past couple of years. He also called for early elections nine months into Morsi's tenure when, he told BBC Arabic in an interview in 2015, he realised that his policies weren't going to help the country achieve the goals of the 2011 revolution. 

Sisi's foreign policy

Fotouh also condemned Egypt’s tense bilateral relations with regional powers including Qatar, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

“The government has been spawning relations with certain countries for the sake of aggravating others,” said Fotoh.

“It does not befit Egypt’s [lengthy] history and regional value that the government take such a politically and morally inappropriate stance on relations with Arab and Muslim neighbours, especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey,” said Fotouh.

Since the 2013 Egyptian coup, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE) provided unconditional support for the military government led by Sisi. But relations between Egypt and Saudi Arabia began to change following the death of King Abdullah, while more recently analysts have pointed towards a warming up of relations between Iran – Saudi Arabia’s regional nemesis – and Egypt.

Terrorism list

Fotouh also condemned the Egyptian government’s move on Tuesday to add more than 1,500 names to an ever-growing "terrorist" list, which according to Fotouh now includes Mohamed al-Qassass, the vice-president of the Strong Egypt party.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) described the move as an "indiscriminate use of broad counter-terrorism laws”.

"Egyptians no longer have a choice but to either support the government by donating to the ‘Long live Egypt’ fund or to find themselves under siege."

Fotouh claimed in the interview that his party which previously worked out of 92 offices across the country, now only has one.

"People are afraid to fund the party now that they would may become targeted. We are banned from holding any conferences and have been forced to collect the rent for our single party office from party members."