CAIRO: In his first interview since announcing his bid for presidency on March 27, presidential candidate and former Minister of Defense, Field Marshal Abdel Fatah al-Sisi presented his electoral platform.
Additionally, he claimed that two assassination attempts targeted him, and confirmed that the Muslim Brotherhood will cease to exist during his presidential term.
Sisi began the interview, conducted by television hosts Lamis el-Hadidi and Ibrahim Eissa on ONTV and CBC satellite channels, by talking about being a good moral example for Egyptians.
“The declaration on July 3 was clear as the head of the Constitution Court is the president of Egypt,” said the 59-year-old Field Marshal, noting that he ran for president to prevent the country from collapsing, and to protect the “targeted people” from “danger,” whether inside or outside Egypt.
“When the people called upon me, I ran for the presidential race,” added Sisi, who “saw the public desire through his following of the media outlets” especially during the constitutional referendum in January.
Sisi further stated that the military generals requested that he not run, however adding that for the sake of the country there was no option for him but to run. When Eissa asked whether he was informing the military about his decision to run or asking for permission, Sisi replied, “The general commander does not take permission from anyone.”
He added that the only people he consulted over running for president were his wife and the four other members in his family.
Sisi further stated that Egypt would not be governed by a military-style leadership, and that the military would not interfere in ruling Egypt.
Sisi also said the Army did not rule Egypt over the past 30 years, but was performing its duty of securing the country.
Sisi further stated that he had been the target of two assassination attempts, but failed to elucidate on the details of these attempts.
Regarding political Islam, Sisi criticized the prevalent religious discourse saying that “the religious discourse in the Islamic World has lost the values of humanity in Islam.”
In the interview that lasted for an hour and 46 minutes, Sisi expressed his hatred for cronyism, favoritism and nepotism.
With regards to whether he interfered in governmental issues during his time as defense minister, he stated that he intervened in three issues: applying the minimum wage, the maximum wage, and increasing the value of social welfare.
As for his electoral platform, Sisi stated that stability, security and development are his priorities. He noted that only seven percent of Egypt’s land is inhabited by 90 million people, and as such expanding the inhabited lands is necessary. He continued that Egyptians must work and exert efforts to build and develop their own country.
Sisi will launch his development program by carrying out strategic projects in agriculture and housing to adjust the geographic and administrative structure, he said, noting that he would endorse such projects as the Path of Development and Reconstruction proposed by American-Egyptian scientist Farouk el-Baz.
Sisi further stated that he met with a member of the Muslim Brotherhood leaders on July 23, 2013 for 45 minutes, and that he threatened to bring about militants from Syria, Afghanistan, Libya and elsewhere to attack Egypt.
However, Sisi told him that those who think to raise a weapon against the army “will be ruined.” At this point, Hadidi interrupted him whether he was referring to former Deputy Supreme Guide of the Brother Khairet el-Shater.
Sisi replied, “Maybe.”
Sisi, who served 45 years in military service, said that terrorism in Sinai would be easy to get rid of in a few hours, but the military worked to protect and preserve the lives of innocent people. However, he said that there were human causalities, confirming that he will strike a balance between reserving human rights and combating terrorism.
As for the large number of presidential pardons given to prisoners by Morsi during his term, Sisi said, “We told him you are releasing people to kill us. But he kept silent.”
As for foreign pressure on the government to reach reconciliation with the Muslim Brotherhood, Sisi said that the people should understand the values of the western world and how their media works.
However, he stated that the western world must understand that the group is a real terrorist threat, and pose a danger to western countries’ interests, noting that their leaders have actually begun to understand the situation.
Sisi further stated that the Brotherhood would cease to exist under his term.
Regarding the Protest Law, which sparked a controversy among the revolutionaries, Sisi said that the law was passed as a legal mechanism to end the state of anarchy that Egypt is going through. He added that protesting is a right, but there are conditions that should be taken into consideration.
In response to a question on imposing a counter-terrorism law in Egypt after being a president, Sisi said, “I will do anything that is necessary to secure and protect Egypt.”
On Sunday, Sisi met with journalist in his first press engagement since announcing his candidacy on March 26, in a televised press roundtable. The interview on Monday night was his first in-depth televised engagement with the media.