Egyptian contractor Mohamed Ali reveals his plan to topple Sisi

Egyptian contractor Mohamed Ali reveals his plan to topple Sisi
Egyptian contractor Mohamed Ali, who has previously published videos detailing corruption by the government of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, has announced a new programme to overthrow the autocratic leader.
4 min read
20 November, 2019
Mohamed Ali said that he was in contact with all Egyptian opposition forces [TNA]
Dissident Egyptian contractor Mohammed Ali has announced a new project that would unite all Egyptian opposition political forces under a single political programme.

Speaking at a press conference in London on Wednesday, Mohamed Ali, called President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi's regime, "a threat not only to Egyptians but to the interests of European countries in the region".

Ali, who previously worked as a contractor for the Egyptian army, caused a great stir on social media last September, when he revealed that Sisi had spent millions of dollars of public money on luxurious palaces for himself and his family, at a time when poverty rates in Egypt were increasing.

Read more: Something had to give in Egypt

Ali has lived in exile in Barcelona since falling out with Egyptian authorities after the army failed to pay his company for construction work.

His trip to London was his first since his Spanish exile and he said that he had decided to hold the press conference there because "it was the media capital of the world".

Anti-Sisi hashtags started by Mohamed Ali were used millions of times on Twitter, and thousands of people protested against Sisi in Cairo and other Egyptian cities.

However, Egyptian security forces responded with violence and repression, arresting over 2,000 people and locking down Cairo's Tahrir Square and areas of other cities.

Sisi was forced to respond to Ali's claims in a televised speech, when he denied claims of corruption and saying that he would continue his palace-building programme, which he said was for the "Egyptian state" rather than himself. The scandal became known as "Palacegate".

A threat to Egypt and Europe

At the press conference, which was hosted by the advocacy and research platform EgyptWatch, Mohamed Ali said that UK and Western public opinion needed to know the reality of the situation in Egypt.

Quoting the World Bank's figures, he said that one-third of Egypt's population of 100 million lived in poverty, while 60 percent of Egyptians were "vulnerable" to poverty.

Over 60,000 political prisoners laguish in jail while a dispute with Ethiopia over the Renaissance Dam on the Nile - which Ali accused Sisi's government of mishandling - threatened to deprive Egyptians of water.

Read more: Egyptian woman arrested after criticizing Sisi in viral video

Protests against Sisi have died down in Egypt, even though anti-corruption uprisings have taken place in other Middle Eastern countries, such as Lebanon and Iraq.

The New Arab asked Ali whether Cairo had managed to exert control over Egypt in a way that would ensure that no anti-corruption uprising would be successful.

Ali answered that the Sisi regime had threatened the Egyptian people with long prison sentences and even execution if they took to the streets to protest corruption.

He said that many people wanted to protest against Sisi but were unable to take such risks.

"Even if we carry out a revolution what will come after Sisi?" he asked. "There could be chaos - just like after the January 25 [2011] Revolution when the revolution was taken over. The army supported the revolution, and then took over the country."

"We need to present the Egyptian people with a programme so that people can be assured of what will happen when Sisi leaves power. After this we will call for a popular movement. I now have contact with opposition political forces and Egyptians abroad and we can organise a plan to take to the streets again."

A clear programme?

Ali added that he was in contact with all Egyptian political forces to create the political programme he was proposing, saying that the aim of this was to present a real alternative to Sisi's rule.

This programme would be put to a vote online, for the Egyptian people to decide on. He said that the programme would help unite the Egyptian opposition and ensure that the country would have a clear direction when Sisi was eventually overthrown.

However, the dissident contractor was sketchy on the details, saying that it would be developed in consultation with "experts and prominent academics in exile".

When The New Arab asked him how he would ensure that online voting of the programme would be transparent and that only Egyptian voters would be able to take part in the referendum, Ali said: "I don't know how this process will be carried out, I will depend on people with expertise and qualifications."

He said that he knew that it was possible for the referendum to be tampered with.

However, he said that he was encouraged by the response to the hashtags he launched. In his videos, Ali has always emphasised that he was an apolitical person until recently and was not qualified to become a political leader.

Abdel Fattah al-Sisi led a military coup against Egypt's first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi, in 2013. He became president the following year after a rigged presidential election where he won an incredulous 96.7 percent of the vote.

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