Thursday,23 November, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1235, (26 February - 4 March 2015)
Thursday,23 November, 2017
Issue 1235, (26 February - 4 March 2015)

Ahram Weekly

The president’s speech

President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi’s speech to the nation last weekend covered topics of national and international importance, reports Reem Leila

The president’s speech
The president’s speech
Al-Ahram Weekly

President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi spoke to the nation in a 40-minute televised speech on 22 February, his face unchanging as he addressed domestic and international issues.

He was shown seated at a distance and in close up, leaning forwards as he started to talk about the Armed Forces, the air strikes against Libya and those killed in recent attacks.

Long shots of the president were also used, showing him at work outside his office. Close-up footage focussed on the president’s hand gestures, indicating firmness and openness.

Farouk Abu Zeid, dean of the Faculty of Mass Communication at Misr University for Science and Technology (MUST), said that the speech had been carefully produced, with the president shown referring to documents and other papers.

He maintained eye contact with the cameras, Abu Zeid said, signifying his desire to communicate directly with viewers.

“The president wanted to appeal to people’s emotions in the speech, while bringing serious matters to their attention. The speech was also spontaneous and not made from a written script,” Abu Zeid said.

“Regular contact with the public is essential for maintaining stability at this time, especially during the critical period the country is going through.”

He added that the speech was well received in Arab countries and other nations around the world.

During his speech the president spoke about the recent air strikes in Libya, carried out in response to aggression, he said.

“The Armed Forces are not there to attack others, but they are they to protect Egypt from within its borders. A number of sites were targeted in Libya with great precision and all necessary precautions were taken to minimise civilian casualties,” Al-Sisi said.

He said that the military is working hard to achieve security in Sinai. “Sinai will never be fully secured and stable without eliminating terrorist hide-outs,” he said.

Al-Sisi stressed the need for a unified Arab front to counter the grave challenges facing the region. Countering leaks of comments allegedly made by Al-Sisi during his time as defence minister, in which he had appeared to have a poor opinion of the Gulf countries, Al-Sisi said in his speech that Egypt holds the Gulf countries in the highest esteem.

 “Our relations will not be undermined by nefarious attempts to foment division,” Al-Sisi said. He acknowledged the support of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Kuwait, without which Egypt would not have been able to confront many challenges.

Al-Sisi referred to events that took place earlier this month, including the Air Defence Stadium tragedy in which 22 people were killed, as well as the killing of activist Shaimaa Al-Sabbagh ahead of the fourth anniversary of the 25 January Revolution.

“Those responsible will be held accountable,” Al-Sisi said, referring to the two incidents.

“I know there are some behind bars who are innocent. Many of these will be released very soon, once the correct procedures have been completed,” he added. “But as president I cannot interfere in judicial affairs, as the judicial system is independent.”

Al-Sisi pointed to funds designated to develop a number of informal housing areas as part of efforts aimed at achieving social justice. “We have allocated LE1 billion to develop Al-Dweika area, with half of the money coming from the Long Live Egypt [Tahia Misr] Fund and the remaining LE500 million from the state budget.

“The debts of indebted women who have been imprisoned have been paid to help expedite their prompt release, LE1.6 billion has been allocated for the villages that are most in need, and LE100 million set aside to address the issue of street children,” Al-Sisi said.

In a policy designed to help reduce the problem of unemployment among young people, the president said that a mobile retail scheme will be launched for young entrepreneurs. Vehicles will be provided for young people at reasonable prices to help overcome the unemployment problem, he said.

Political analysts praised the president’s decision to address the public at this juncture. Hassan Nafaa, a professor of political science at Cairo University, said that the president wanted to inform the public of recent actions in the local, regional and international arenas.

“The president spoke effectively and professionally about diplomatic and foreign affairs. He also spoke about social justice and alleviating the debts of poor farmers and indebted women, as well as providing job opportunities for unemployed young people,” Nafaa said.

Al-Sisi’s speech assuaged public concerns over recent deaths, including those at the Air Defence Stadium, Nafaa said. This was in addition to his discussion of security topics such as the situation in Sinai and the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group.

“The Western media has been focusing on Egypt and developments in its political life,” Nafaa said. Al-Sisi’s speech was designed to meet distortions in certain media accounts, he added.

Aliya Al-Mahdi, also a professor of political science at Cairo University, said that the president is concerned with the country’s political and economic stability. “The president is well aware of the importance of achieving stability, especially given the upcoming economic conference that will be held in Sharm El-Sheikh,” she said.

A certain amount of instability is to be expected after two successive revolutions, Al-Mahdi said. “It could take some time for Egypt to regain its political stability. The president was keen to stress the importance of accomplishing stability in order to press ahead with achieving development.

“Against a background of US anger at Egypt’s buying French Rafale jet fighters, the president wanted to present different sources of weapons for the Egyptian Armed Forces, in order that the strength of Egypt’s military may be reinforced along with its work in protecting the country,” Al-Mahdi said.

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