President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi announced on Monday night that he will be a candidate in the December presidential elections. Al-Sisi made the announcement in a speech at the conclusion of the three-day “Story of a Homeland” Conference in the New Administrative Capital which reviewed his achievements in office over almost a decade.
“As I have in the past answered the call of Egyptians, here I am today answering their call once again,” said Al-Sisi. “I have decided to nominate myself and use the new presidential term to complete the achievement of our dreams, and I promise you that this term will be an extension of our joint efforts for the sake of Egypt and its people.”
In his address to the conference, Al-Sisi said he is happy that other candidates had decided to stand and called on all Egyptians to turn the election into a significant democratic milestone.
“People should encourage one another to participate and choose whoever they see fit,” he added.
The president also announced that he has chosen Mahmoud Fawzi, secretary- general of the Supreme Council for Media Regulation, to be the manager of his presidential election campaign. Should he win the election, Al-Sisi will have served 16 years in office when his third term ends in 2030.
While Al-Sisi was delivering his nomination speech, thousands of his supporters gathered across the country, waving flags as giant TV broadcast his speech to the nation.
After Al-Sisi opened the three-day conference on Saturday, Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouli and cabinet ministers took the floor to speak at length about the achievements of the government in the nine years since Al-Sisi took office.
The event was accompanied by the release of a 307-page book titled The Story of a Homeland. Sulaf Darwish, deputy chairman of parliament’s Labour Force Committee, told Al-Ahram Weekly that the objective of the conference was to inform citizens of achievements in Egypt under the nine years of President Al-Sisi’s rule. “This is an important step ahead of the upcoming presidential election and in response to the Muslim Brotherhood’s hostile media campaigns which have repeatedly targeted the state and the president,” he said.
During the opening session, President Al-Sisi told delegates he wanted to convey a message to the Egyptian people about the elections. “I have one message for our citizens: we hold this conference to review what we have achieved, and in the forthcoming presidential elections you hold the power to bring about change. Some may argue that it’s all in God’s hands, but I say it’s in your hands too. Whoever seeks change should actively participate.”
He warned citizens of the hostile media campaigns which aim to undermine trust in the state.
“Today we are telling the story of Egypt since 2014 because it is important to understand the existential challenges that the state was facing,” said Al-Sisi.
Al-Sisi described the Muslim Brotherhood as “the group of evil” that has over the last ten years launched malicious campaign after campaign in an attempt to undermine citizens’ trust in their country and rulers. He also argued that “if hunger and deprivation are the price of construction, development, and stability, let us accept it.”
He cited the construction of the New Suez Canal, which faced a barrage of criticism, as an example of how the state has managed to restore people’s pride in their country.
“Before we started the construction of the New Suez Canal project, the revenues of the international waterway were just $ 4.5 billion, but now after eight years they have climbed to $ 10.5 billion.”
He encouraged Egyptians to envision a future that transcends immediate needs and aspirations, saying “your dreams must be even greater; do not let your dream end with the next meal.”
During the conference Madbouli said Egypt’s achievements over more than nine years were unprecedented and “were attained despite the Covid-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war which has hit us hard over the last three years”.
Madbouli also underlined the crucial importance of the government’s continuing commitment to development. “By the word development, I mean you should set up projects all the time, adopt an ambitious national strategy and boost expenditure,” he said, stressing that a robust infrastructure is essential to attract investments.
“For decades Malaysia, Singapore, Germany and China have invested almost 20-40 per cent of their GDP in developing their infrastructure. And now Egypt, under President Al-Sisi’s rule, has spent more than LE 9.4 trillion (22 per cent of its GDP) on infrastructure projects.”
Madbouli gave the New Administrative Capital as a shining example of the ambition of Egypt’s infrastructure projects.
Housing Minister Assem Al-Gazzar drew attention to the LE 1.3 trillion Egypt invested in urban development between 2014 and 2023. “Of this, LE 975 billion – or 75 per cent – has been allocated to the construction and development of fourth-generation cities, while LE 325 billion – 25 per cent – has been earmarked to improve the quality of life in existing cities,” said Al-Gazzar.
Egypt is currently building 24 fourth-generation cities which will accommodate 32 million people, and there are plans to build 14 more.
Commenting on Madbouli and Al-Gazzar’s statements, Al-Sisi said many earlier development projects had failed because of runaway population growth. He also noted that “in 2011 – because of political instability – Egypt lost $ 450 billion”.
“The lesson we need to learn from this is that stability is essential for the growth and progress of any country.” As long as Egypt is secure and stable, he said, it will always be able to move forward.
“We are a country with 105 million population. Without stability and security Egypt would fall into chaos. When the Muslim Brotherhood reached power in 2012, they failed to solve the people’s problems not because of conspiracies but because of ignorance and stupidity.”
* A version of this article appears in print in the 5 October, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly