Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said Wednesday that Egypt's main challenge is preserving the integrity of the Egyptian state.
"When I talk about protecting the state, I mean keeping the structure of the Egyptian state in order to continue the economic development of [the country]," El-Sisi said in an extensive speech in which he reviewed a number of challenges facing Egypt.
The speech came during a conference where Egypt’s prime minister and cabinet ministers presented the country's 2030 economic and sustainable development vision.
The vision aims to secure Egypt's place as one of the best 30 countries in the world in economic and social development terms, as well in anti-corruption measures and the quality of life index, the president said.
The government aims to increase economic growth rates to 10 percent in light of current political, social and environmental conditions; respect human rights and the rule of law.
"I meet with ministers every day and I can tell you whether they are efficient or not," El-Sisi said.
"Changing the cabinet at this time will harm state stabilisation," he added.
The cabinet was expected to present its programme before parliament last week, but MPs decided to postpone the special session until it finalises its internal bylaws.
"Look at what we achieved in terms of building our state," El-Sisi said.
"Now we have a parliament that represents all Egyptians and no one intervened in the results or the electoral process. Some 50 percent of the MPs are undertaking their first parliamentary experience and one third of the seats are held by youth, with unprecedented representation for women," he added.
"I am calling on you to consider all these facts before criticising," he said.
El-Sisi went on saying that many international delegations paid visits to the parliament, which means that the world recognises its vitality.
Terrorism and Russian plane crash
The president discussed the fight against terrorism and the crash of the Russian airliner over Sinai in November 2015.
"The fight against terrorism is not over yet," he said.
Alhough the Egyptian investigating committee has not yet announced its final report on the causes of the crash that left all 224 passengers and crew members killed, El-Sisi acknowledged for the first time that a terrorist attack could have caused the crash.
"The goal of those who downed the plane was not only to sabotage our tourism, they wanted to harm our relationships with Russia, if they could with Italy, and others," the president said.
"We didn't want to build the state's strategy on confronting terrorism only. We were keen to counter terrorism and build the state at the same time," El-Sisi said.
"So let me assure you that I know everything about the terrorists numbers and weaponry from the time I served as the head of military intelligence," El-Sisi added.
"But the real face-off took place following 30 June (2013)," he said, referring to the rise of terror attacks against security personnel following the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi.
"They (the terrorists) ... started the violence," El-Sisi said.
Ethiopia's Renaissance Dam
On Ethiopia and its controversial Grand Renaissance Dam, El-Sisi said that Egypt has been negotiating with Addis Ababa for a number of years on the issue of filling the dam, as well as reconsidering other water alternatives, such as water desalination.
Egypt fears that the dam might negatively affect its current share of Nile water, as Ethiopia's "long-awaited national project," which is scheduled to be completed in 2017, will be Africa's largest hydroelectric power plant with a storage capacity of 74 billion cubic metres.
El-Sisi pointed out that water treatment stations were being built to compensate for any lack of potable water during the first filling of the Renaissance Dam.
El-Sisi said the state is facing a challenge between confronting human rights violations and maintaining state stability.
"This is the hard formula we're trying to deal with. I know that there are violations, which I oppose," El-Sisi said.
His remarks come following a series of incidents of rights abuses committed by security personnel against doctors and ordinary citizens. The last major incident of police abuse took place last week in Cairo's working class district of Darb El-Ahmar when a low ranking police officer killed a driver over a money dispute. Egypt's prosecution referred the officer to criminal court.
El-Sisi called on all Egyptians to remain "one hand" and to work hard, adding that the state is currently undertaking major infrastructure projects that will take years to be completed.
"We need to sustain social justice ... And I swear to God that I will sacrifice myself to maintain it," the president said.
"Currently a 5,000-kilometre national roadway is being constructed at a cost of EGP 50 billion, in addition to building 133 bridges within 20 months only," El-Sisi announced.
He added that the government managed to overcome problems in providing gas to factories, as well as reducing power outages, within only one year.
El-Sisi also announced that three ports were currently being constructed and were going to be ready for inauguration within two years.
He also revealed that three airports with a capacity each of 1.7 million passengers are in the planning.