Egypt’s President Sisi Defends Sweeping Security Laws

Egypt's President, Abdul Fattah al-SisiEgypt’s President, Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has defended Egypt’s sweeping security laws, insisting he is still taking the country on a path to democracy.

Ahead of a visit to the UK, Mr Sisi said that the laws were imposed because Egypt was being threatened by extremist groups and feared the collapses suffered by its neighbours.

He also underlined that Egypt’s situation is different to that of Europe.

The retired field marshal led the army’s overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi in 2013 following mass protests.

 

The President said critics in the West had to appreciate the threats faced by Egypt, where jihadist militants killed at least 600 security personnel over the past two years.

“Give me the environment in Europe to be available here in Egypt, and you will never need anything of the kind,” Mr Sisi insisted.
What millions of Egyptians wanted most of all, he added, was a decent standard of living.

“It’s fine to check on human rights in Egypt. But the millions who are in difficult economic conditions – wouldn’t it be better to ask about them?”

President Sisi also stressed that the hundreds of people sentenced to death in connection with the unrest surrounding the overthrow of Mr Morsi were unlikely to be executed, either because they were convicted in absentia or due to the appeal process.

The UN alleges that fair-trial guarantees appear to be increasingly trampled upon in Egypt, while the Brotherhood has said the trials of its leaders and supporters are politically motivated and attempts to give legal cover to a coup.

President Al-sisi Imposes New Anti-Terror Laws In Egypt

al-sisiEgyptian President, Abdul Fattah Al-sisi has approved a set of new counter-terrorism laws aimed at tackling growing Islamic insurgency in the country.

The laws established special courts and offered additional protection from legal consequences for military and police officers who had used force.

They also impose the death penalty for anyone found guilty of setting up or leading a terrorist group.

Egypt has seen an increasing violent insurgency over the past two years by Islamist groups that aims to undermine Al- sisi’s government.

The new laws are said to have been prompted by the assassination of a public prosecutor, Hisham Barakat, in a car bomb.

The Amnesty International had earlier warned that the legislation would vastly expand powers that would usually only be invoked during a state of emergency, and that it would effectively ban the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association.

“This new law will become yet another tool for the authorities to crush all forms of dissent and steamroll over basic human rights,” said the group’s acting Middle East and North Africa Director, Said Boumedouha.

Egypt’s President Sisi ‘Regrets’ Al-Jazeera Journalists Trial

aljazeera_journoEgypt’s President, Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, has said he wishes the three al-Jazeera journalists imprisoned last month had never been put on trial.

Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed were sentenced to between seven and 10 years in jail after being found guilty of aiding a “terrorist group”.

Mr Sisi was quoted by the al-Masry al-Youm newspaper late on Sunday as saying the trial had “very negative effects”.

His remarks received a mixed response from the journalists’ families.

Foreign governments, media organisations and human rights groups accused the Egyptian authorities of restricting freedom of speech.

Al-Jazeera said it defied “logic, sense and any semblance of justice”.

At a meeting with local journalists on Sunday, President Sisi sought to counter claims that the case had been politically motivated.

“The verdict issued against a number of journalists had very negative effects; and we had nothing to do with it,” he said, according to al-Masry al-Youm. “I wished they were deported immediately after they were arrested instead of being put on trial.”

Mohammed Abdul Hadi Allam, the editor of the state-run al-Ahram newspaper, and Imad Hussein, the editor of the private daily al-Shurouq, confirmed to the BBC that the quotes were accurate.

The president had wanted to distance himself from the case, insisting he would not interfere with the judiciary.

His latest remarks will therefore raise hopes that he might issue pardons to set the journalists free, but under the Egyptian law such pardons can only happen after the appeals process had ended.

Ukraine Army Helicopter ‘Shot Down’ Near Sloviansk

Ukraine Army helicopterAs the crisis in Ukraine continues, pro-Russian rebels in the East have shot down a military helicopter near the flashpoint city of Sloviansk killing 14 people.

The aircraft was reportedly hit after offloading soldiers at a military base.

Sloviansk has seen fierce fighting between separatists and government forces in recent weeks.

President-elect, Petro Poroshenko has vowed to tackle the uprising in eastern Ukraine, saying he would deal firmly with “bandits” and “murderers”.

There has been an upsurge in the conflict since Mr Poroshenko’s election on Sunday. The rebels say they lost up to 100 fighters when they tried to seize Donetsk airport on Monday.

Since then further clashes have been reported in several areas – including Sloviansk – where pro-Russia militiamen are holding four international monitors.

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said that the missing OSCE members were alive and well and there was hope they would be released soon.

“We have not yet been able to re-establish contact with them; it has now been since Monday. Of course, as the days pass we get more concerned but we are using all of our contacts, all our government contacts, diplomatic contacts, non-state actors on the ground of which there are many, to re-establish contact with them.

“We believe they are fine, they are well but of course one thing we do want is to see them return to their base in Donetsk,” Bociurkiw said.

Earlier on Thursday, the leader of pro-Russian separatists in the area where the monitors were seized said they are likely to be released soon.

Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, whose separatist group controls the town of Slaviansk, said the OSCE had been warned not to travel in the area, but had sent a four-man team out all the same.

The team, which comprises a Dane, a Turk, an Estonian and a Swiss, are among a few hundred monitors sent to monitor compliance with an international accord for de-escalating the crisis in troubled eastern Ukraine, where separatists have seized control of strategic points in several towns.

Egypt Election: Sisi Secures Crushing Win

Abdul-Fattah-al-SisiJust as predicted, Egypt’s former military chief, Abdul Fattah Al-Sisi has won the country’s presidential election by a landslide.

Provisional results show he gained over 93% of the vote with ballots from most polling stations counted.

Egyptians cheered and waved flags on Thursday to celebrate the victory as the General, who toppled Egypt’s first freely elected leader, joins a long line of leaders drawn from the military.

Judicial sources said that Sisi captured 92.2% of votes cast in more than 50% of polling stations. His only rival, leftist politician Hamdeen Sabahi, gained 3.8% while 4.2% of votes were declared void.

Newspaper headlines on Friday morning heralded Sisi’s victory, writing “Sisi takes the throne” and “Sisi sweeps to victory.”

Fireworks erupted in Cairo when Sisi’s results began to emerge. His supporters waved Egyptian flags and sounded car horns on the crowded streets of the capital.

Celebrations continued until morning when people gathered and celebrated the apparent victory.

Voter turnout was 44.4% of Egypt’s 54million voters. That would be less than the 40million votes, or 80 percent of the electorate, that Sisi had called for, but for Sisi supporters on the streets of Cairo, his victory still heralds a bright new era.

“It will change 180 degrees in Sisi’s era. We were living in anxiety in our homes and on the street with robberies and carjacking. There was real anxiety. Now God will calm the situation with Sisi in the picture”, said one of the jubilant supporters.

In a country polarized since the revolt against Hosni Mubarak, many Egyptians said voters had stayed at home due to political apathy, opposition to another military man becoming president, discontent at suppression of freedoms among liberal youths, and calls for a boycott by Islamists.