The United States President Donald Trump on Monday came in support of his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who has come under pressure in the face of protests calling for him to step down in Egypt, reported Reuters.
“Everybody has demonstrations,” Trump said while meeting el-Sisi on the sidelines of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly in New York City. “I’m not concerned with it. Egypt has a great leader. He’s highly respected.”
Mr. Trump reiterated that the United States and Egypt have a great long-term relationship.
First elected in 2014 with a whopping 97 percent of the vote, Mr. Sisi got re-elected four years later with the same percentage, in a vote in which the only other candidate was an ardent Sisi supporter. His popularity has been dented by economic austerity measures.
Egypt’s government has put a ban on public gatherings of more than 10 people without government approval since 2013 when Mr. Sisi led the military’s overthrow of Egypt’s first democratically elected leader, Mohammed Morsi.
Thousands of protesters on Friday and Saturday defied a de facto ban on demonstrations as they took to the streets in central Cairo and several other cities to demand el-Sisi’s departure.
On Monday, the Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights said more than 500 people had been arrested across the country since the protests began.
“The latest count of those arrested over the events since Friday in Cairo and other provinces has risen to 516,” the rights group said in a statement.
The protests followed calls for President Sisi to step down by Mohamed Ali, a building contractor and actor who accused the president and the military of corruption in a series of videos posted online.
From self-imposed exile in Spain, Ali has called for a “million-man march” on Friday and for protesters to fill all “major squares” of the country.