#Sisi_Leave: Sisi 'saddened' by hashtag demanding he step down

#Sisi_Leave: Sisi 'saddened' by hashtag demanding he step down
Egypt's President Sisi has complained about a hashtag going viral that demands he steps down over his incompetency.
3 min read
30 July, 2018
Sisi was 'upset' by the #Sisi_Leave hashtag [Getty]

Egypt President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has expressed displeasure about recent online postings urging him to step down due to the country's struggling economy.

Sisi said on Sunday he was "upset" over the posts, which he said were inappropriate.

The hashtag, which translates to #Sisi_Leave surfaced this summer following the steep price hikes of fuel, water and electricity after the government introduced strict austerity measures designed to overhaul the economy, but have hit poorest Egyptians hardest.

"They have pushed us into being a nation of poverty, a nation of neediness, but when I begin working toward getting us out of this, I find the hashtag #Sisi_leave," he said. "Should I have been upset or not? I was upset. I was upset."

Translation: #Sisi_Leave I am exhausted

Sisi is clearly easily affected by criticism. He has led the biggest and most infamous crackdown on dissent in Egypt's recent history, jailing thousands of people across all political and religious spectrums for defying his rule or expressing critical viewpoints.

Unable to cope

His economic reforms have won Sisi lavish praise from some of Cairo's Western backers and bankers.

They see him as a leader who was prepared to adopt painful measures - like lifting state subsidies on basic items - regardless of the political cost, policies his predecessors  did not enact fearing popular unrest or harming the poorest citizens.

Sisi's policies have failed to see any economic benefits and hit the majority of Egyptians who have to deal with steep hikes in the price of everything from utilities and fuel to food and transportation.

Sisi has repeatedly told Egyptians not to listen to anyone but him. In his latest remarks, he said unnamed parties were tirelessly working to undermine and destabilise the country, something he has consistently claimed since taking the presidency following a military coup in 2013.

Egypt, he warned Sunday, would not survive another "revolutionary" phase like that of 2011.

"Everything is linked to stability and security. I want us to develop an acute fear of instability," he said.

'Only Allah can judge me'

Sisi also warned that economic reforms were open-ended and that he intended to continue down the same route.

"I will press on because I don't have another path," declared the general-turned-president who routinely calls on Egyptians to endure hardships for the sake of their country and declares that only God will judge his actions.

With a touch of populism, Sisi said on Sunday he was prepared to join Egyptian youths clean the streets of Egypt's cities. On Saturday, he said he was prepared to eat one meal a day for the rest of his life if that would help Egypt be strong and prosperous.

Seeking to assure Egyptians that his policies would soon bear fruit, he said Cairo will, by June 2020, have a surplus of natural gas, complete a network of roads crisscrossing the country, finish the first phase of construction of nearly a dozen new cities and overhaul the railway network.

Along with the economic challenges, Egypt also faces an insurgency by Islamist militants in northern Sinai. Sisi on Sunday added his security forces have made significant progress in the fight against insurgents but warned that future terror attacks could not be ruled out.