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Abdul Fattah al-Sisi


Egypt has declared a three-month state of emergency after attacks on two Coptic churches that left at least 44 dead on April 9.

The measure allows authorities to make arrests without warrants and search people’s homes, President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi said. It needs to be approved by parliament before it is implemented.

ISIS said it was behind the blasts in Tanta and Alexandria on Palm.

The group has targeted Copts in Egypt recently and warned of more attacks.

President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi said made a defiant speech at the presidential palace after a meeting of the national defense council to discuss the attacks.

He said the state of emergency would be implemented after all “legal and constitution steps” were taken. The majority in parliament backs President Sisi.

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Abdul Fattah al-Sisi said had earlier ordered the deployment of the military across Egypt to protect “vital and important infrastructure”.

The attacks coincided with one of the holiest days in the Christian calendar, marking the triumphal entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem.

ISIS said in a statement that two suicide bombers carried out the blasts. One targeted St George’s Coptic church in the northern city of Tanta, where 27 people were killed, the health ministry said.

Hours later, police stopped the bomber from entering the St Mark’s Coptic church in Alexandria. He detonated his explosives outside, leaving 17 dead, including several police officers.

The blasts came weeks before an expected visit by Pope Francis intended to show support for the country’s Christian minority, who have long complained of being vulnerable and marginalized.

The move by President Sisi is likely to raise concerns among human rights activists, observers say. The president, a former army chief, has been criticized by local and international groups for severe restrictions on civil and political rights in Egypt.

Human Rights Watch says tens of thousands people have been arrested in a crackdown on dissent, and that security forces have committed flagrant abuses, including torture, enforced disappearances and likely extrajudicial executions.

Egyptians are voting in the first round of long-delayed elections to choose a new parliament.

Today’s parliamentary elections are the first since the previous chamber was dissolved by a court ruling in 2012.

The authorities say the poll is the final step in a transition to democracy.

However, critics say most candidates are supporters of President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi and the new parliament is likely to strengthen his control.

Abdul Fattah al-Sisi is a former general who led the 2013 military overthrow of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, following months of unrest.

Mohamed Morsi’s party, the Muslim Brotherhood, won about half the seats in the last parliament but is now banned and its leaders are in jail – some facing death sentences.

Photo Reuters

Photo Reuters

However, many figures from Hosni Mubarak’s regime are on the ballot paper.

The election consists of two rounds of voting and results are not expected to be known until early December.

Voters are choosing 596 lawmakers for the lower house, the House of Representatives.

Security has been tightened across the country with at least 185,000 troops supporting police, Egyptian news agency Mena reported.

On October 17, President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi made a televised appeal for Egyptians to vote.

“Line up in front of polling stations and plant with your votes the hope for a bright tomorrow for our new Egypt,” he said.

While the new parliament appears to have broad powers, it is not expected to challenge the president.

Analysts say turnout is expected to be low, with many Egyptians disillusioned with the democratic process.

Jailed Al Jazeera journalists Mohammed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed have been freed after receiving pardons from Egypt’s President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi.

Egyptian-Canadian Mohammed Fahmy and Egyptian Baher Mohamed were among 100 prisoners whose release was ordered.

Egypt’s state media said a third person from the case was also pardoned. It is not clear if this is the Australian Peter Greste, who was deported in February.

They were sentenced to three years in prison last month after a retrial.

Prosecutors accused them of collaborating with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood after the overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi by the military in 2013.

The journalists denied the allegation and said they were simply reporting the news. Legal experts said the charges were unfounded and politically motivated.Al Jazeera journalists Egypt

A statement from President Abdul Fatah al-Sisi’s office issued on September 23 said Mohammed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed were named on a decree pardoning 100 young people “who had received final court sentences, having been convicted on the grounds of violating the anti-protest law and assaulting police forces”.

“Other prisoners were pardoned due to their health conditions and on humanitarian grounds,” the statement added.

Also named were the prominent activists Yara Sallam and Sanaa Seif, who were jailed in 2014 for taking part in an “illegal protest”.

After the pardons were first reported, a tweet from Mohammed Fahmy’s account said: “Thank you to all the supporters sending us the news, we have heard and are very happy. AJ Staff is Free!”

Al Jazeera said in a report on its website that it “continues to demand all charges and sentences against its journalists are dropped”, noting that Peter Greste and six other employees had been convicted in absentia.

The pardons were issued by President Abdul Fatah al-Sisi ahead of the Islamic festival of Eid al-Adha and a day before he travels to New York to address the UN General Assembly.

The president had said he would be willing to pardon the Al Jazeera journalists once the judicial process had ended.

Mohammed Fahmy, who renounced his Egyptian citizenship to qualify for deportation in February, was expected to leave for Canada following his release.

Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has been declared the winner of last week’s presidential election in Egypt.

The former army chief said he wanted “freedom” and “social justice”, echoing the slogan of the 2011 revolution.

Abdul Fattah al-Sisi spoke after election officials announced that he had received 96.9% of the vote and his sole challenger, left-winger Hamdeen Sabahi, only 3.1%.

The retired field marshal overthrew President Mohamed Morsi last July.

He has since been locked in a battle with Mohamed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, which urged a boycott of what it called “the election of blood”.

Liberal and secular activists, including the April 6 youth movement which was prominent in the 2011 revolution that ousted Hosni Mubarak, also shunned the poll in protest at the curtailing of civil rights.

Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has been declared the winner of last week's presidential election in Egypt

Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has been declared the winner of last week’s presidential election in Egypt (photo Reuters)

Some journalists and government officials burst into applause and started dancing after the final results of the election were announced at a news conference in Cairo on Tuesday.

Thousands of Abdul Fattah al-Sisi supporters also celebrated in the capital’s famous Tahrir Square, cheering, singing songs and setting off fireworks.

In a speech broadcast later on state television, Abdul Fattah al-Sisi thanked voters and said he hoped to “be up to your trust”.

He said it was now “time to work”, adding: “Our co-operation in work and construction will lead to prosperity and luxury.”

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, a close ally, declared in a letter published by the Saudi state news agency that it was a “historic day” after a “period of chaos”. He also said he would organize a donor conference to help Egypt “get out of the tunnel” and “overcome its economic crisis”.

The Saudis, along with the UAE and Kuwait, have already promised the military-backed interim government almost $12 billion in financial assistance since Mohamed Morsi was ousted.

The official turnout was 47.45%, far lower than Abdul Fattah al-Sisi had hoped for as an endorsement and only achieved after an additional third day of voting.

Before the election, he declared that he wanted 40 million, or 74%, to cast their ballots to show that there was “consensus on a national level”.

He now faces a wide array of challenges, including fixing the economy, easing poverty and preventing further political crises.

Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has also promised to restore security in a country where attacks by Islamist militants have left hundreds of security personnel dead over the past 11 months.

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Egypt’s former military chief Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has won an overwhelming victory in the country’s presidential election, according to partial results.

Abdul Fattah al-Sisi gained over 93% of the vote with ballots from most polling stations counted, state media say.

Turnout is expected to be about 46% despite a massive push to get more people to polling stations. Many groups boycotted the vote.

Abdul Fattah al-Sisi deposed President Mohamed Morsi last July after mass protests.

Egypt’s former military chief Abdul Fattah al-Sisi gained over 93 percent of the vote with ballots from most polling stations counted

Egypt’s former military chief Abdul Fattah al-Sisi gained over 93 percent of the vote with ballots from most polling stations counted

He has overseen a bloody crackdown on Mohamed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood movement in which more than 1,400 people have been killed and 16,000 detained.

The Brotherhood said it would boycott the vote, as did many liberal and secular activist groups.

The Islamist movement rejected the vote on Thursday with Tariq al-Zumar, a senior member of the Brotherhood, calling the process a “theatrical play, which did not convince anybody”.

Hamdeen Sabahi, the only other candidate in the election, said earlier his team had recorded “violations” in the voting process.

However, he rejected calls from his supporters to withdraw from the elections, saying it was not in the interest of Egyptians.

Hamdeen Sabahi secured fewer than 760,000 of the 24.7 million votes counted, and lost out in many regions to a high number of spoiled ballots, the state-run al-Ahram newspaper reports.

Hundreds of Abdul Fattah al-Sisi supporters took to the streets of Cairo in the early hours of Thursday as results emerged, waving Egyptian flags, setting off fireworks and honking their car horns.

The military-backed authorities had extended voting to a third day in the hope of boosting turnout.

But reports suggested many polling stations were almost deserted on Wednesday.

Egypt’s new president will inherit a crippled economy, a low level insurgency, and a bitterly divided nation.

He had aimed to win 40 million of 54 million registered votes, to show that he had the support of the majority of Egypt. In the event, it appears about 25 million voted.

In comparison, turnout for the previous presidential election between Mohamed Morsi and former PM Ahmed Shafiq was around 52%.

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Egypt is voting in new presidential election, for the second time in two years.

A huge security operation has been mounted for the polls to elect a successor to Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected leader who was ousted by the army last year.

Analysts predict an easy victory for Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, the former army chief who led the removal of Mohamed Morsi.

The only other candidate is veteran left-winger Hamdeen Sabahi.

Analysts predict an easy victory for Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, the former army chief who led the removal of Mohamed Morsi

Analysts predict an easy victory for Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, the former army chief who led the removal of Mohamed Morsi

Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, 59, appeals to Egyptians who crave stability after years of political upheaval and anything else than an easy win for him would be a source of astonishment.

President Mohamed Morsi was deposed last July following mass protests and he is standing trial on a raft of charges. He strongly denies any wrongdoing.

Egypt’s interim authorities have since clamped down hard on Mohamed Morsi’s Islamist movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, declaring it a “terrorist organization”.

More than 1,400 people have been killed and 16,000 arrested, including the Brotherhood’s senior leaders.

In his election campaign, Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has set out plans to develop agriculture, housing, education, impoverished areas and employment.

He is backed by several big businessmen as well as a broad range of political parties from the Islamist right to the moderate left.

Hamdeen Sabahi, a previous presidential contender, offers an alternative to young voters who favor a civilian candidate over a former military one.

He promises to combat corruption and incompetence while promoting civil rights.

Both candidates say they will not re-legalize the Muslim Brotherhood.

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Egypt’s military chief Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has resigned in order to stand for the presidency.

In a widely expected announcement, Field Marshal Abdul Fattah al-Sisi said on state TV he was appearing “in my military uniform for the last time”.

Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, 59, led the overthrow of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013 after mass opposition protests.

Correspondents say he is likely to win the presidency, given his popularity and the lack of any serious rivals.

To his supporters, Abdul Fattah al-Sisi is a saviour who can end the political turmoil dogging Egypt since 2011 when a popular uprising ended Hosni Mubarak’s three decades of one-man rule.

Egypt's military chief Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has resigned in order to stand for the presidency

Egypt’s military chief Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has resigned in order to stand for the presidency

But his opponents hold him responsible for what human rights groups say are widespread abuses, and fear that he wants a return to authoritarianism.

Abdul Fattah al-Sisi’s announcement came hours after Egypt’s interim authorities ordered the prosecution of 919 suspected Islamists and days after 528 were sentenced to death in a separate case.

The starting date of the nomination process for the presidential election will reportedly be announced on Sunday, after which no changes may be made to the electoral roll.

The government has yet to set a date for the vote, although earlier this month al-Ahram newspaper cited interim President Adly Mansour as saying that it would be completed by July 17.

Leftist politician Hamdeen Sabahi, who came third in the 2012 election, is the only other candidate to have declared his intention to run.

General Sedki Sobhi, the current chief-of-staff of the armed forces, is expected to be named Field Marshal Sisi’s successor.

If Abdul Fattah al-Sisi becomes president, he will be the latest in a line of Egyptian rulers drawn from the military; a line only briefly broken during President Mohamed Morsi’s year in office.

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Field Marshal Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has indicated he will run for Egypt’s presidency.

Abdul Fattah al-Sisi was quoted by the state news agency Mena as revealing that “official procedures” regarding his candidacy were expected in the coming days.

It is the clearest indication yet that Abdul Fattah al-Sisi will stand in the election which is scheduled to take place by mid-April.

The field marshal led the overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi in July.

Field Marshal Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has indicated he will run for Egypt’s presidency

Field Marshal Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has indicated he will run for Egypt’s presidency

He has been widely expected to resign and declare a presidential bid since the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) gave its public support at the end of January.

Correspondents say Abdul Fattah al-Sisi would be likely to win, given his popularity and the lack of any serious rivals.

The field marshal commented on his prospective candidacy in a speech at a graduation ceremony at the Egyptian Military Academy in Cairo.

Abdul Fattah al-Sisi said he could “not turn his back on calls by the majority of Egyptians for him to run for president”, Mena reported.

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Vladimir Putin has announced he backs Egypt’s military chief Abdul Fattah al-Sisi in his “bid for the presidency”.

Vladimir Putin, meeting Field Marshal Sisi in Moscow to discuss an arms deal, said he was “aware” of his decision to run.

However, there has been no announcement on the matter from the Egyptian side.

General Abdul Fattah al-Sisi led the overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi last July, and the new constitution calls for an election by mid-April.

Correspondents say Field Marshal Sisi would be likely to win, given his popularity and the lack of any serious rivals.

Vladimir Putin said: “I know that you, mister defence minister, have decided to run for president of Egypt.

“I wish you luck both from myself personally and from the Russian people.”

Vladimir Putin has announced he backs Egypt's military chief Abdul Fattah al-Sisi in his bid for the presidency

Vladimir Putin has announced he backs Egypt’s military chief Abdul Fattah al-Sisi in his bid for the presidency

Field Marshal Sisi is in Russia to negotiate a $2 billion arms deal, after the US suspended some of its annual military assistance in response to Mohamed Morsi’s removal.

Field Marshal Sisi said: “Our visit offers a new start to the development of military and technological co-operation between Egypt and Russia. We hope to speed up this co-operation.”

No details have been released about the military discussions, although Russian media pointed to Egyptian interest in acquiring air defence missiles, MiG-29 jets and helicopters, among other weapons.

Two weeks ago Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) gave its public support to any presidential bid by Field Marshal Sisi.

However, last week, the military issued a denial after a Kuwaiti newspaper quoted the field marshal as saying he would run for the presidency.

The military said at the time that any announcement would “be done via clear and direct statements that cannot be doubted or misinterpreted”.

The 59-year-old former military intelligence chief was appointed head of the armed forces and defence minister by Mohamed Morsi in August 2012.

But after mass protests demanding Mohamed Morsi’s resignation took place on the first anniversary of his taking office, it was the field marshal who gave the president an ultimatum that he would have to satisfy the public’s demands or see the army step in.

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