'Hope is a patriotic duty': Sisi hails progress in first speech to parliament
Ahram Online, Saturday 13 Feb 2016


Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi listed on Saturday his achievements since his inauguration and the current challenges facing the country, in his first speech in front of the newly convened parliament.

“I announce the transition of legislative authority to the elected parliament,” the president began his speech, declaring the end of a four-year legislative hiatus in which law-making powers were in the hands of the president.

“We were able to break terrorism in the (Nile) valley, in Sinai, on the Western borders, and we are still ongoing,” El-Sisi started, listing his achievements.

El-Sisi said that one of the current regime’s aims is to attract more foreign investments, and that could a marked increase in the GDP.

In order to attract such investments, according to El-Sisi, the infrastructure is currently being developed.

El-Sisi added that at the same time, huge projects have been launched that aim to decrease population density in the Delta and Nile valley.

He also referenced a project, launched last year, to build 5,000 kilometres of road, as well as the development of the electricity networks that have helped reduce power cuts and deficits.

The president also cited the building of new civilian airports and ports and the Dabaa project to build the country's first nuclear power plant, which according to El-Sisi, will start construction within “the next few weeks.”

He said that the highlight of his achievements is constructing the new Suez Canal, completed last year, as well as the Suez Canal Area development projects which are currently being built.

The building of the new Suez Canal “restored faith to the Egyptians in themselves as well as their abilities,” El-Sisi added.

All these projects, according to the president, created job opportunities for over one million citizens.

But the projects nonetheless “will take a long time to reap the benefits," El-Sisi stated.

The president also said that Egypt had regained its regional and international role, by winning a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council, and by mediating in attempts to solve the Syrian, Libyan, Yemeni crises and advocating for the Palestinian cause.

“This nation accommodates everyone,” El-Sisi stated, and from this notion, he said that using his constitutional powers he pardoned many imprisoned youths.

He hoped that the state’s institutions will integrate these pardoned youths in the national process, he said.

El-Sisi added that although he extended the social pensions to encompass three million families, there is much to be offered to “simple people” who suffered in the past decades from “negligence and marginalisation.”

Challenges

The president urged that the issues of education, health, the media, and renewing religious discourse be at the top of the parliament’s agenda.

“What this country faces in terms of challenges makes worry and fear valid. But the amount of unprecedented achievements make hope inevitable and a national duty,” El-Sisi said addressing the parliament.

We shouldn’t forget that we successfully aborted a dangerous conspiracy [against Egypt]. We should realise that there are those who want to seek harm and endanger our national project of development and stability, the president warned.

"Let's build a strong, youthful country," concluded El-Sisi. His speech was met by enthusiastic applause from parliamentarians, and cries of "long live Egypt!"

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