CAIRO: “The will of Egyptians is my magic wand to solve problems and achieve the impossible,” said presidential candidate Abdel Fatah al-Sisi Sunday at his first press engagement since announcing his candidacy on March 26, in a televised press roundtable.
Sunday’s panel included a lineup of prominent print and broadcast journalists and presenters. Although the appearance was lacking in platform details, the presidential frontrunner used the time to praise the military and comment on the role of the media.
“Media is so influential in shaping public opinion, along with family, education and houses of worship,” Sisi said during the meeting, adding that Social media could increase people’s awareness. He also called on the media to “put the interest of the citizens first,” and described the role of the media right now as “critical.”
The international Committee to Protect Journalists has been critical of the current interim government, and has accused it of using arrests to harass and silence critical journalists.
Sisi praised the Egyptian armed forces for protecting the county’s borders, defending its people, combating terrorism in all governorates and securing and guarding vital facilities. “The armed forces work for the sake of Egypt and its great people and belong to all Egyptians,” he said, “not just one.”
He also said he originally didn’t want to run for the presidency, but felt responsible for the country because the people called on him to run and demanded Egypt resist extremist religious speech. He added that, “I’m proud to have been born in a district surrounded by Christians and Muslims.”
Sisi announced on state television March 26 that he would run for president, after first resigning from his post as defense minister and following a meeting with the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces attended by interim President Adly Mansour. He is widely expected to win the May 26-27 election in the first round. His only opponent is leftist politician Hamdeen Sabbahi. Both were given the green light by the Presidential Elections Committee to launch their election campaigns Saturday.
The campaigns for presidential candidates began May 3 and will end on May 23.
Sisi is scheduled to make another televised appearance tonight hosted by presenters Lamis El-Hadidi and Ibrahim Eissa on ONTV and CBC satellite channels.