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Arabic press review: Egyptian opposition abroad calls for Sisi to step down

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says ties with Riyadh evolving, and an Iraqi man dies of suspected suicide in an Australian immigration centre
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi during the US-Africa Leaders Summit at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center on 14 December 2022 (AFP)
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi during the US-Africa Leaders Summit at the Walter E Washington Convention Center on 14 December 2022 (AFP)

Egyptian opposition calls for early presidential election

Egyptian opposition figures and political forces based abroad have called in a letter for President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to step down and hold early presidential elections, Arabi 21 website reported.

In the letter, the signatories said their demands come amid "the failure of all the policies adopted by the current regime that has exposed Egyptians to drought and poverty, making life impossible for the majority of the people".

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The signatories include actor Amr Waked, former presidential candidate Ayman Nour, American-Egyptian activist Samis Harris, activist Moaz Abdel-Karim, Fabiola Badawi of Ghad al-Thawra party, Mahmoud Wehbi of the Technocrats of Egypt group, and others.

The letter was published in conjunction with the 12th anniversary of the 25 January revolution that toppled President Hosni Mubarak.

The signatories said an early presidential election, which is to be held next year, should take place under international supervision to ensure its integrity.

They called for a "quick agreement on a national rescue program to protect the country's economy and properties, putting a stop to unreasonable spending, conjoining sovereign and private funds with the state budget, and supporting the poorest segments of the population".

The letter also demanded the immediate and unconditional release of political prisoners.

Blinken says US-Saudi relations 'constantly evolving'

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington's relations with Saudi Arabia are "constantly evolving", in an exclusive interview with Saudi channel Al Arabiya.

Blinken kicked off a three-day Middle East trip with a visit to Cairo, where he met with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi on Sunday. The secretary of state will hold talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Mohamed Shtayyeh on Tuesday in Ramallah, a day after meeting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In the interview, Blinken said the relations between his country and Saudi Arabia have long been significant, and emphasised the need for ties to reflect common interests and values.

Blinken also said Tehran had rejected the proposal to return to the nuclear deal with world powers, but the US still believes diplomacy is the most effective way to deal with the Iranian nuclear issue.

President Joe Biden has repeatedly said the US will never allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons and that all options are open to prevent that.

On the protests in Iran, Blinken said that Iranian youths are defending their basic rights against the government.

The state secretary said the US supports the Iranian people "and we leave the decision of changing the regime to them".

Suspected suicide of Iraqi in Australian detention

An Iraqi man has died of suspected suicide at an immigration centre in Villawood city in Australia, authorities have said.

The interior ministry, which supervises the detention of immigrants, confirmed the man's death at the Villawood Immigration Detention Centre on Sunday, according to the London-based newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi.

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"We, the Ministry of Interior and Australian Border Force (ABF), express our condolences to the family and friends of the man," said a spokesperson of the Australian Ministry of Interior.

"The issue has been referred for investigation to the competent agencies including the NSW coroner."

The spokesperson added that the ministry will not provide further comments related to an ongoing investigation.

The man, who had been in detention for five years, is believed to have been last seen alive in his cell at 10pm on Saturday. 

The Refugee Action Coalition said it was alerted to the death of the detainee, in his 30s, early on Sunday morning. 

“It is shocking that there has been yet another suicide in [the] Villawood detention centre,” the coalition’s spokesperson Ian Rintoul said.

“It is not just a factory for mental illness, it is becoming a suicide factory.”

In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14 and beyondblue is 1300 22 4636. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In the UK, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. Other international suicide helplines can be found at

*Arabic press review is a digest of news reports not independently verified as accurate by Middle East Eye.

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