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  • Trump meeting with el-Sisi at the annual UN General Assembly.

    Trump meeting with el-Sisi at the annual UN General Assembly. | Photo: Reuters

Published 24 September 2019
Opinion

"I'm not concerned with it. Egypt has a great leader. He's highly respected," the U.S. president declared.

United States President Donald Trump has shared his entire support to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi Monday, as the latter came lately under pressure in the face of protests calling for his departure.

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"Everybody has demonstrations," Trump said while meeting el-Sisi on the sidelines of the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City.

"I'm not concerned with it. Egypt has a great leader. He's highly respected," the U.S. president declared insisting that his counterpart "has done some things that are absolutely amazing in a short period of time".

"When he took over, it was in turmoil. But it's not in turmoil anymore. I just wanted to say we have a long-term great relationship. It's better than ever before," Trump added.

When asked about the protests, the Egyptian leader on its part, blamed them on "political Islam".

Demonstrations gathering hundreds of people broke out Friday and continued Saturday in several Egyptian cities calling for the removal of the president. In the port city of Suez, police clashed on Saturday with protesters, firing tear gas and live rounds to disperse the crowd.

On Monday, a rights group announced that more than 500 people had been arrested across the country since the beginning of the protests, among them prominent human rights lawyer Mahienour el-Massry.

Such demonstrations are rare occurrences after the country effectively banned protests under a law passed following the 2013 military coup.

But discontent over the economy has reached a tipping point in Egypt, where Sisi's government imposed strict austerity measures since 2016 as part of a US$12 billion loan deal with the International Monetary Fund.

Nearly one in three Egyptians live below the poverty line on less than US$1.40 a day, according to official figures released in July.

A former general, el-Sisi led the military removal of democratically elected Mohamed Morsi. Since he came to power, the country has seen unprecedented repression and a surge in torture practices against rights groups, civil society organizations, journalists, and political opponents and activists.

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