Egypt’s el-Sissi gives first campaign TV interview

CAIRO — Former army chief Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi gave the first TV interview of his campaign to become Egypt’s next president on Monday, saying he decided to run because of the threats facing the nation after his removal of the country’s first democratically elected president, Islamist Mohammed Morsi.

El-Sissi’s campaign for the May 26-27 election is likely to largely be made up of TV and media interviews and private meetings, with few street appearances, mainly because of security concerns, given the fierce emotions surrounding his candidacy and the wave of militant attacks on the military and police since his removal of Morsi last summer. In the interview aired Monday night on two private Egyptian TV channels, he said there have already been two assassination plots against him uncovered.

The lack of street campaigning is unlikely to damage the 59-year-old el-Sissi, who is widely seen as the certain victor in the race. His only opponent in the race is leftist politician Hamdeen Sabahi, a third-place finisher in the 2012 election won by Morsi. Since removing Morsi, el-Sissi has been riding an overwhelming media frenzy lauding him as the savior of the country from the Muslim Brotherhood, once Egypt’s most powerful political force but now all but crushed by a ferocious crackdown.

After ousting Morsi on July 3 in the wake of massive protests against the then-president, el-Sissi had said he did not have political aspirations — and in Monday’s interview he repeated that.

“I can’t respect myself if I thought that way, that I made a plan to seize power in Egypt. I wouldn’t be respecting myself or the people,” he said.

Asked when he changed his mind, he said it was because of “the threats facing Egypt from inside and outside.” He pointed to the turmoil after the Aug. 14 dispersal of two large pro-Morsi protest camps in Cairo, when security forces killed hundreds of Morsi supporters, prompting a backlash of violence around the country and international criticism.

“Remember how Egypt looked, and the security situation and the anxiety how far it had reached? You saw how the outside world was dealing with us,” he said. He pointed to the “threat of the fall of the nation,” saying, “I couldn’t abandon the people.”

El-Sissi, who retired from the military with the rank of field marshal to launch his candidacy, heads into office at a time of deep polarization in Egypt. Morsi’s supporters have continued protests against the new government, often met by fierce and lethal clashes with security forces. Hundreds have been killed and more than 16,000 members of the Brotherhood and other Islamists have been arrested, as have a number of secular activists who warn of a return to autocracy under el-Sissi.

At the same time, the country is facing mounting economic woes. The interim government has been struggling with an energy crisis amid shortfalls of natural gas, and throughout the day Monday before el-Sissi’s address, neighborhoods of the capital Cairo were hit by rotating blackouts — as they have been for months.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Kim Skarda points at her home on a map on Thursday, June 20, 2024 in Concrete, Washington. A community called Sauk River Estates has a very steep slope above it. There is a DNR-approved timber sale that boarders the estate properties, yet they were not consulted about the sale before approval. The community has already appealed the sale and has hired their own geologist to conduct a slope stability report at the site. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Beneath steep slope, Concrete neighbors fear landslides from logging above

Nielsen Brothers plans to cut 54 acres of timber directly behind the community of 83 homes. Locals said they were never consulted.

Law enforcement respond to a person hit by a train near the Port of Everett Mount Baker Terminal on Thursday, June 27, 2024 in Mukilteo, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
2 killed in waterfront train crashes were near Mukilteo ‘quiet zone’

In June, two people were hit by trains on separate days near Mukilteo Boulevard. “These situations are incredibly tragic,” Everett’s mayor said.

Rob Plotnikoff takes a measurement as a part of the county's State of Our Waters survey at Tambark Creek in Bothell, Washington on Monday, July 1, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Snohomish County stream team bushwhacks a path to healthier waterways

This summer, the crew of three will survey 40 sites for the State of Our Waters program. It’s science in locals’ backyards.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Mountlake Terrace in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
4th suspect arrested after Mountlake Terrace home robbery

Police arrested Taievion Rogers, 19, on Tuesday. Prosecutors charged his three alleged accomplices in April.

A 10 acre parcel off of Highway 99, between 240th and 242nd Street Southwest that the city of Edmonds is currently in the process of acquiring on Monday, July 10, 2023 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Edmonds ditches $37M Landmark public park project off Highway 99

The previous mayor envisioned parks and more in south Edmonds, in a historically neglected area. The new administration is battling budget woes.

Edmonds school official sworn in as Mount Vernon supe

Victor Vergara took his oath of office last week. He was assistant superintendent of equity and student success in Edmonds.

Trees and foliage grow at the Rockport State Park on Wednesday, April 3, 2024 in Rockport, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
When you gets lost hiking in WA, how much does it cost to get rescued? Surprisingly little

Washington’s volunteer search and rescue teams save lives without costly bills.

Riaz Khan finally wins office on his fifth try. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Mukilteo state House candidate arrested weeks before jumping into race

The misdemeanor domestic violence case against Riaz Khan, a former Mukilteo City Council member, has since been dismissed.

Samantha Grospe helps her son Everett Grospe, 4, pick a book during Lake Stevens Education Foundation Dolly Parton Imagination Library celebration on Sept. 21, 2018 in Lake Stevens, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
United Way delivers 100k free books to Snohomish County kids

Thanks to a partnership with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, the nonprofit is making free books possible for young kids.

Everett Fire responds to  a medical incident at Northern View Apartments in Everett. (Photo provided by Everett FIre)
Everett firefighters rescue man and dog in fire that displaces 8

It took about an hour for firefighters to extinguish the flames at the Northern View Apartments on Wednesday night.

The Sounder commuter train at Everett Station Wednesday evening on October 9, 2019.   (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Hop a Sounder train from Everett, Mukilteo, Edmonds to Mariners games

The next run is Sunday as the M’s face their division foe, the Houston Astros. The train departs Everett at 10:45 a.m.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.