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Sisi: Don’t listen to anyone but me

In a televised address on Wednesday, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi outlined his government’s envisioned strategy for sustainable development, dubbed “Egypt 2030.”

Sisi started by telling Egyptians the country is being subjected to conspiracies against the state and the national economy.

Speaking at Cairo’s Galaa Theater — with a backdrop reading “2016, Year of Youth” — Sisi asserted that he would continue working toward building and developing Egypt until the end of his term, or his death.

The president added that this development plan targets Egypt’s youth, and aims to help raise their awareness regarding the vision for Egypt 2030, which he said was developed by the government over the last two years and covers 12 main areas: education, employment, economic development, energy, electricity, health, housing, infrastructure and transportation.

The president argued that all Egyptians should be united behind the state and his leadership. “I know Egypt well, and I know the remedy it needs,” he said.

“Don’t listen to anybody’s words but me. I am speaking in all seriousness, don’t listen to anybody’s words but me,” he urged. “I am a man who does not lie, nor do I beat around the bush. I have no interests except those of my country. My country only.”

In the hour-and-a-half long speech, Sisi elaborated on the projects the government is working on. Regarding housing projects for the youth, Sisi promised he would ensure that whoever fulfils the criteria and applies for housing would get it, even if demand surpasses the planned 100,000 units.

He claimed the state would actively seek the inclusion of Egyptian youth in its development programs, and the employment of qualified youth in its administrative structures, adding that the government is working on projects in all sectors in record time and at reduced costs.

Commenting on Egypt’s energy situation, Sisi said the petroleum supplies provided by Gulf states, along with other essential goods, are a commercial transaction with deferred payment plans, not grants.

Sisi announced that the “Long Live Egypt” fund, which the Central Bank established in 2014 in response to his call, has accumulated LE4.7 billion to date. He then blamed Egyptians for not contributing more to the development of their country, encouraging the population to donate money through SMS. “If only 10 of the 90 million mobile phone owners in Egypt donated one pound for Egypt every morning, we would have LE10 million every day,” he explained.

The former defense minister added that he would seek further economic assistance for Egypt from developed states.

He addressed criticism of the government by the media, saying that he would like those who criticize to take the government’s place and show him what they can do. The president urged people to study issues well before criticizing them, even in social conversations, offering to personally sit down and explain things to those who ask.

For the first time, Sisi alluded to terrorism in the downing of the Russian airliner over the Sinai Peninsula on October 31, which killed all 224 people on board. Egyptian officials have repeatedly denied that terrorists brought down this passenger plane, asserting that investigations into the crash are still ongoing and have not revealed evidence of foul play or terrorist activity. The president contradicted this narrative, asking, “He who brought down the [Russian] plane, was it his objective just to hit tourism? No. It was also to hit [bilateral] relations with Russia.”

The privately owned Al-Masry Al-Youm provided a script of Sisi’s speech, in which he is quoted as asking, “Those who struck at tourism in Egypt, why did they strike at it? They struck at it because it was a sector which brought in 14 billion dollars, and we need dollars to purchase many things for Egypt.”

At one point during the address, the president stated, “I swear to God almighty, if I could be sold, I’d sell myself.” While this comment was met with applause by the audience, social media users went on to mock it, creating an eBay auction for the president.

Addressing one of the main demands of the 2011 revolution, Sisi explained,  “Yes, indeed, we want social justice, but am I going to achieve social justice, or are we going to achieve social justice together?”

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