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Egypt warns of firm action against protesters

President Sisi says Egyptian security forces will 'confront with extreme rigour' planned protests against his rule
A handout picture released by the Egyptian Presidency on April 24, 2016 shows Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi delivering a speech in Cairo (AFP)

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and his interior minister warned on Sunday on the eve of planned anti-government demonstrations that security forces would deal firmly with protesters.

"I see there are people calling once again for damage to [Egypt's] security and stability," Sisi, who has ruled the country with an iron fist and cracked down on all dissent, said in a televised speech.

"Our responsibility is to protect security and stability, and I promise Egyptians that no one will terrorise them again," he said.

Interior Minister Magdy Abdel Ghaffar, in a statement, said "the nation's security and stability ... constitute a red line and no attempt to damage them will be tolerated".

"Security services ... will confront with extreme rigour any attempt to disturb public order."

In defiance of a ban on unauthorised demonstrations, secular and leftist activists have called for an anti-government protest on Monday, a holiday to mark the anniversary of Israel's returning to Egypt of the Sinai Peninsula in 1982.

In July 2013, Sisi, then the army chief, overthrew Egypt's first elected president, Mohamed Morsi, a leader of the now banned Muslim Brotherhood, and launched a deadly crackdown on his supporters.

Authorities have since banned all but police-approved rallies and overseen a crackdown that has left hundreds of Morsi supporters dead and thousands imprisoned.

Several secular and leftist activists who spearheaded the 2011 uprising against longtime strongman Hosni Mubarak have also been jailed.

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