‘Protecting the weakest’

Al-Sisi marked National Police Day with a major speech, reports Reem Leila

President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi delivered a speech on 24 January, a day ahead of Police Day on 25 January, at the Police Academy. Al-Sisi used the occasion to honour 41 families of policemen killed during the course of duty and also laid a wreath on the monument inside the academy which commemorates police martyrs.

The 25 January was chosen as National Police Day to commemorate the bravery of policemen in Ismailia as they fought against British occupation forces in 1952.

The ceremony at the Police Academy was attended by Prime Minister Sherif Ismail, Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel-Aal, Minister of Interior Magdi Abdel-Ghaffar, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb and head of the Coptic Orthodox Church Pope Tawadros II.

During his speech Al-Sisi praised the efforts made by the police to maintain security. Egypt, he said, is engaged in a war against terrorism. He revealed that during the course of the war “police forces have captured around 1,000 tons of explosives at a time when the price of one ton is $400,000.”

Addressing the battle against terrorists in Sinai, Al-Sisi said it was similar to the War of Attrition (1967-1970) which culminated in the October victory of 1973. “Egyptian people,” he said, “are fighting a courageous and noble battle against terrorism and evil forces.”

During the speech Al-Sisi mentioned the phone call which he received on 23 January from US President Donald Trump. Trump affirmed the strength of strategic Egyptian-US relations and supported greater cooperation between Egypt and the US in many fields. Trump also told Al-Sisi his administration was committed to maintaining US military aid to Egypt.

Egypt annually receives $1.3 billion in military aid from the United States.

During the phone call Al-Sisi congratulated Trump on officially assuming his post and stressed that Egypt looks forward to fresh momentum in bilateral relations under the new US administration.

Combating terrorism and extremism was among the issues discussed during the phone call. Trump lauded Egypt’s efforts in this regard while Al-Sisi said Egypt is determined to continue the confrontation to combat and eradicate terrorism and extremism despite the extra burdens placed on the shoulders of the Egyptian people because of difficult economic conditions.

Trump said he looked forward to seeing Al-Sisi in Washington. A visit is currently being prepared to facilitate continued coordination and consultation between the two countries.

On the ongoing economic crisis Al-Sisi said Egypt was facing “a critical situation that can no longer be treated by sedatives”.

“We had no choice but to intervene in order to fix the economy if we are to build a better future for the coming generations,” he said.

“I have vowed to you to do whatever is in the people’s best interests. We have already started a comprehensive economic reform plan to rescue the country from its current situation.”

“We are supporting investment and the private sector as we mobilise our resources and open ourselves up to the world. We know that no reform comes without pain but we are exerting our utmost efforts to alleviate the burdens of the poor.”

Al-Sisi praised the Egyptian public for showing patience and hailed their willingness to endure hardships in order to overcome the challenges facing the country.

The president called on people to remain united behind the army in the face of the many challenges facing Egypt. He singled out women serving in the police for the role they play in promoting the safety and respect of all Egyptian women in the streets.

Al-Sisi also drew attention to the problems posed by population growth over the past 60 years. Egypt’s population has multiplied by four times since the 1950s and economic development was hard-pressed to keep up. He also complained about high divorce rates in Egypt which have reached 40 per cent in the first five years of marriage.

Al-Sisi concluded his speech by stating that Egypt was committed to protecting the most vulnerable members of society from the negative impact of the economic programme.

Minister of Interior Magdi Abdel-Ghaffar’s Police Day speech praised the cooperation between the police and the army to counter terrorism.

Abdel-Ghaffar said his ministry was providing the public with better security services and protection of human rights by improving its performance through technological development and more personnel training.