Thursday,19 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1313, (29 september - 5 October 2016)
Thursday,19 October, 2017
Issue 1313, (29 september - 5 October 2016)

Ahram Weekly

Sweet and bitter

Al-Sisi inaugurated a housing project in a slum area of Alexandria during which he delivered a speech to the nation, reports Reem Leila

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Al-Ahram Weekly

On 26 September President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi inaugurated a housing project Bashayer Al-Kheir in the slum area of Gheit Al-Enab affiliated to Alexandria governorate. The project, worth LE1.2 billion, was funded by businessmen, Al-Ahly National Bank, and the Armed Forces as part of a bigger plan to upgrade slum districts in the coastal city of Alexandria.

The project includes 17 buildings with 1,632 apartments. It has 17 educational workshops and 58 commercial shops to be used in small projects. This is in addition to a big commercial market, educational park for children and a centre for children with special needs. During the inauguration the president handed out contracts of several apartments to its new owners.

After the inauguration, the president delivered a speech which he started by a minute of silence for those who drowned following a ship which capsized last week in Rosetta while carrying illegal migrants. Al-Sisi asked the public to support his plan to end unchecked migration in and out of the country. "There is no justification or excuse for those who were lost, more than 160 Egyptians. This is an issue we need to confront with all our strength," Al-Sisi stated in his speech.

According to Al-Sisi, illegal migration should be met by cooperation between the government and society. “All governmental institutions should work together to end illegal migration," said Al-Sisi while noting that Egypt's land and maritime borders are almost 5,000 km long, and protecting them was not easy.

According to Al-Sisi, the government has in the pipeline job-creating projects including two fisheries in East Port Said and Kafr Al-Sheikh. "The government will build 100 new greenhouses. Just one will provide a harvest equal to five feddans, thus adding to the current 180,000 feddans which we lose 40 per cent of during packaging and transportation," Al-Sisi said.

"We do not want to be a state of refugees," he said. "But we have to work and work and work to change the reality we are living in. Soon there will be six to eight factories in Kafr Al-Sheikh governorate for the fishing industry. Each factory can hire at least 200 workers. I just want youth to work," he stressed.

The president also noted that an additional 1,500 housing units will soon be completed in Al-Dabaa of Al-Alamein area in the North Coast. There is also another project by the government to build 170,000 housing units “for residents of dangerous areas”, said the president.

He called on Egyptians to donate small sums of money — LE1, 50 or 25 piastres — to fund the country's national projects. "I do not know how to do this. But the spare change can be placed in such funds. We are talking about the transaction of 20 or 30 million people. If everybody donates, we will collect from LE10 to LE12 million, a sum that could be deposited in interest-yielding accounts," the president stated.

"Please, please. I want this money. I don't know how to take it, but we want to put it away," Al-Sisi said.

The president also stated that he has high hopes of eliminating Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) in Egypt — considered among the highest rate of infections in the world — within the next two years. Al-Sisi pointed to the progress made so far. “The Health Ministry no longer has waiting lists for people seeking treatment from the virus."

During his speech the president blamed inflation in part on a rise in spending on public sector salaries. Increased purchasing power has not been met with an equivalent rise in supply, he said, saying public sector wages have gone up LE150 billion in the last five years, while pensions have risen LE53 billion and that some 1.5 million families are now benefiting from the newly introduced social assistance programme.

"We have accomplished great success in eliminating terrorism,” Al-Sisi noted during to his speech, stressing, "The army has direct instructions to deploy all over the country in just six hours to maintain security and protect the country against any sabotage."

The president ended his speech by pointing out the strength and depth of the mutual relationship between Egypt and all Gulf countries. Moreover, he stated that the current relationship between Egypt and foreign countries was stable.

Some political, economic and human rights experts believe that Al-Sisi's speech provided new hope for people in the near future, holding as it did, many positive expectations for the country.

Awatef Abdel-Rahman, a professor at the Mass Communication Faculty of Cairo University, said the president wanted to stress the emotional part of people while addressing them, to attract their attention to serious topics. “The president's speech was essential for maintaining stability among people especially during this critical time which the country is going through," said Abdel-Rahman.

The president, according to Abdel-Rahman, was very confident while addressing the people and was very accurate in sending his messages. "He will have no tolerance for those who might think of endangering the country's stability from the inside. The deployment of the army across the country in a very short time is a message conveying the president's confidence in the army's support for him, as well as his good control over the army," Abdel-Rahman said.

Political analyst Hassan Nafaa said the president pointed to new projects and was asking people to be patient for more two years after which they will reap the government’s harvest. According to Nafaa, the president did not say anything new or different. "Al-Sisi as usual is asking people to be patient. He has been asking them this since he came to power.”

According to Nafaa, the president is threatening whoever might think of causing chaos in the country by being able to deploy the army “in just six hours again" but he did not identify who he was referring to. "I believe the speech did not bear any message to the people other than urging them to be patient and have hope in the future.”

Hazem Hosni, a professor of political science at Cairo University, said Al-Sisi's statements were “very decisive”. Hosni described Al-Sisi as "the godfather of the poor" and said that his discourse was “sweet on the outside and bitter on the inside. He knows people are suffering from price hikes, but is asking them to have hope. People need and want to see swifter improvement. He is giving people sedatives," Hosni said.

Hosni said he believed it was important to attract people's attention to the attempts made by certain sectors to cause disagreement between the public and the Armed Forces. "The president had to tell people this to raise their awareness so as to end it before it gets bigger," Hosni said.

Aliya Al-Mahdi, a professor of political science at Cairo University, said she believed that for the time being the president is concerned with the country's political, economic and security stability. "The president is well aware of the importance of achieving such stability, especially economic and social," Al-Mahdi said.

According to Al-Mahdi, instability in political life prevailing in Egypt is normal especially after two successive revolutions, 25 January and 30 June. "It is normal that it will take a long time until Egypt regains its political, social and economic footing. It is apparent that the president was keen on stressing the importance of realising stability on all levels so as to achieve the aspired development.”

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