President Sisi promises huge new development projects for Egypt
Egyptian media aired a televised speech by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Tuesday night, as an opposition news channel aired the latest in a series of purported leaks from his office.
The broadcast of the latest purported leak comes hours after it was revealed that independent forensic acoustics experts found “moderately strong” evidence that the voice heard in a series of damaging leaks was that of President Sisi.
Speaking during his third monthly speech on Tuesday night, Sisi focused on counter-terror and fighting corruption, also discussing Egypt’s role in the region.
Egypt is taking part in the Saudi-led coalition that has been pounding Houthi rebels in Yemen for over six weeks.
Sisi said on Wednesday that the National Security Council had met and voted to “extend their air and sea participation alongside our brothers in the Gulf”, not mentioning the Yemeni conflict directly.
He opened his address, which was made in informal dialect rather than more formal Arabic, by greeting Egypt’s workers in a belated celebration of Labour Day, a trade union-linked holiday held on 1 May.
Sisi then thanked pilots from Egypt’s struggling national airline, EgyptAir, for ending their labour strikes, saying the company “must start making profits”.
Up to 250 of the airline’s pilots took part in a mass resignation last week over what they said were unfair bonuses given to company bosses.
Addressing the regional situation, Sisi warned of “powers, trends and states that are trying to impose their agendas and impact Egypt’s national security”, stressing that “Egypt’s security is an inseparable part of Arab national security”.
The bulk of the speech focused on domestic issues, with Sisi promising that combatting militancy and corruption were top priorities – the president said 344 attempts at corruption had been “foiled” in one month.
Addressing the country’s fight against militancy, especially in the restive province of North Sinai, where militants on Tuesday released a new video threatening security forces and collaborators, Sisi called for a “comprehensive” fight against terror that does not focus solely on security.
He went on to stress the importance of Egyptian media, saying, “Egyptian television is part of Egypt’s national security, and it must not stop broadcasting for even one minute.”
The president also acknowledged discontent surrounding the announcement of a new administrative capital to be built from scratch at a cost of around US $45bn.
Sisi insisted on Wednesday that the project would go ahead, despite previously announcing that there were not enough funds – promising that the project would create a million jobs for Egyptians.
Much of the funding for the project is expected to come from oil-rich Gulf states like Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which have channelled billions of dollars into Egypt’s struggling economy since the 2013 ousting of Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Morsi.
As some Egyptians tuned in to watch the speech, thought to have been pre-recorded, others watched a broadcast of the latest recording said to be a leak from the president’s office.
Translation: The President’s speech will be put back to 8 pm…because the leak from Sisi’s office is on Al Jazeera and Mekameleen at 8pm!! We have to choose what to watch?
Aired simultaneously with Sisi’s speech on a Turkey-based channel known for its support for the Muslim Brotherhood and ousted president Mohammed Morsi, the new recording alleged that members of Sisi’s government had intervened to appoint judges.
Previous leaks have alleged that Sisi and his political allies had conspired to channel Gulf funds meant for a hospital building project into the Egyptian army, and instructed sympathetic media figures on how to cover Sisi’s presidential election campaign last summer.