Egypt's Sisi to issue presidential pardon within days, according to interview

Ahram Online , Wednesday 24 Aug 2016

Among those who will be pardoned and released are journalists and youth imprisoned in protest-law related cases

President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and editors in chief (Photo:Egyptian presidency)

Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has announced that he will pardon within days more than 300 prisoners, including some who were convicted and sentenced in protest-law related cases.

In the third and last part of a lengthy interview with major state-owned newspapers published Wednesday, El-Sisi said that among 300 youth who would be pardoned and released from jail soon are journalists and youth with special medical and humanitarian cases.

The statement of the Egyptian president comes weeks before the Eid El-Adha feast whereon, as an annual tradition, Egyptian presidents have often pardoned prisoners who have shown good behavior and served half of their prison terms.

'There are no political detainees in Egypt but rather detainees pending investigation and trials. No one is arrested except those who plan or attack violently the state," said El-Sisi when asked about human rights.

"We are keener on human rights and freedoms in our country than those who speak about those rights abroad," he said.

"It should be understood that that the danger resulting from bringing down security institutions is bigger than violations that can happen when having a faction that fights the state and the people," El-Sisi said, adding that human rights should be developed so they would not affect security.

The president said that he was seeking to improve and modernise the police force, a goal that will take time. 

During the interview, El-Sisi revealed that the presidency was preparing a high standards programme to train leading cadres in administrative and executive positions in the state, including ministers and governors.

"This programme will be launched later this year," he said.  

Government performance, public satisfaction, and media performance

Though government performance is currently under fire due to the dollar crisis in Egypt, President El-Sisi praised Prime Minister Sherif Ismail and his ministers when asked about his own evaluation.

"Sherif Ismail is among the most competent prime ministers Egypt has seen and we already have got internationally competent ministers like Minister of Electricity Mohamed Shaker," he said.

President El-Sisi nonetheless said that the current period demands more "distinguished" ministerial performance, giving no answer on whether cabinet reshuffle will occur.

El-Sisi did mention the upcoming governors reshuffle, saying there would be no delay in it.

The media reported recently on increasing public dissatification, especially in the face of recent economic decisions. "I meet regular people and the impression I have about them is that they are not angry or sad," said the president when asked about the issue.

President El-Sisi also expressed criticisms.

"I have noticed some who speak about issues related to national security without full knowledge of the facts or experience," he said, adding that he wanted Egypt's media to shoulder its national responsibility.

The president stated that he did not consider what is being said in the foreign media as a conspiracy against Egypt, but rather a reflection of what is said in the Egyptian media.

"It is enough that when we asked the Italians on what basis they accused the Egyptian police of killing Giulio Regeni, they told us that it was based on what was published in our media," he said.

International and Italian human rights organisations, as well Italian and international media, have accused Egyptian security authorities of being behind the abduction, torture and killing of Italian student Regeni.

The future of the Muslim Brotherhood

During the interview, El-Sisi said that on 3 July 2013, as minister of defence, he sent to Islamist former president Mohamed Morsi three envoys in order to convince him to accept early presidential elections, but he did not answer.

"The fighter's honour means he does not plot against the president or arrange for his ouster. He takes decisions aimed at defending the national interest only," El-Sisi said.

El-Sisi read the televised statement declaring the ouster of Morsi on 3 July 2013, backed by the leaders of Egyptian political parties, religious leaders, youth activists and commanders of the Egyptian armed forces.

"We did not take the permission of anybody before issuing that statement and we did not inform anyone about it before it was announced," said El-Sisi, underlining the national independence of Egypt.

Regarding the confrontation between the Egyptian state and the Muslim Brotherhood, the Egyptian president — who refers to the Muslim Brotherhood as "the people of evil" in his speeches and interviews — said that the battle against them was in its "last chapter"

"We are against a faction that spread lies and rumours through people or the media, and they are armed people who work against the Egyptian people as well," he said, referring to the now banned group.

The Muslim Brotherhood was designated a terrorist organisation by the Egyptian government in late 2013.

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