Egyptian pope urges 'hero' El-Sisi to run for president

MENA and Ahram Online, Sunday 23 Mar 2014

Pope Tawadros II, leader of Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church, claims Arab revolutions were fueled by 'malicious hands'

Egypt's Coptic Pope Tawadros II (Photo: AP)

Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II has said Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has a "national duty" to stand for president in upcoming polls.

"Egyptians see him as a saviour and the hero of the 30 June revolution," Tawadros said during an interview with Kuwait's Al-Watan TV channel on Saturday.

El-Sisi, currently the country's army chief and defence minister, has the "discipline" necessary to lead the country, Tawadros said.

"Yet, everyone is free to elect who they find suitable."

El-Sisi is widely expected to stand for president but is yet to officially declare his candidacy.  

However, Amr Moussa, the head of the 50-member constitution-drafting committee, on Saturday issued a statement outlining El-Sisi's electoral programme.

During the interview, Tawdaros described interim President Adly Mansour as a respectful man who is leading the state with "wisdom" and a "vision for the future."

"There was a moment of consensus and cohesion on the need to end the period of Muslim Brotherhood rule," Tawadros said, in reference to the 30 June protests that preceded the army's ouster of president Mohamed Morsi on 3 July.

Tawadros also praised the Church for its "heroic role in times of chaos and the systematic destruction of churches in Egypt."

Dozens of churches were attacked after Morsi's ouster and the subsequent killing of hundreds of his supporters at protest camps in Cairo and Giza.

The pope criticised the western media, saying it had fabricated facts about the situation in post-Morsi Egypt.

"The Church was keen to reveal all the facts to foreign delegations that visited after the events," he added.

Tawadros also condemned the Arab uprisings, which began in Tunisia in late 2010 before spreading to Egypt, Syria, Libya, Yemen and Bahrain.

The uprisings "known as the Arab spring, were neither a spring nor an autumn," he said. "It was an Arab winter brought by malicious hands to our Arab region to break up its countries into smaller states."

Meanwhile, on the construction of Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam, Tawadros claimed its negative impact would be felt in Egypt, Sudan and the whole African continent.

Egypt has voiced concern over the dam on the Nile river, which supplies most of its water needs.

Talks on the dam between Egypt and Ethiopia have failed to broker an agreement. Ethiopia insists the dam will not affect Egypt's water supply, while Egypt argues not enough research has been conducted into the dam's possible impact.

Tawadros II was selected as Egypt's 118th Coptic Orthodox Pope in November 2012, succeeding Pope Shenouda III who passed away in March 2012.


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