Middle East

Egypt's Sisi speech: 'I am answering the demand of Egyptians'

People listen to the speech by Abdul Fattah al-Sisi declaring his candidacy for the Egyptian presidential election, in a public cafe in Cairo Image copyright Reuters

Field Marshal Abdul Fattah al-Sisi's announcement that he has resigned as defence minister to run for the presidency was broadcast live by Egyptian broadcast media. This is what he said:

"In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful. Proud and honourable people of Egypt, today I stand before you in my military uniform for the last time after I decided to end my service as the commander-in-chief of the armed forces and the minister of defence and military production. I have spent my entire career as a soldier of this homeland serving its hopes and aspirations and in this way I shall continue.

This is a very significant moment for me. The first time I wore military uniform was in 1970 as a 15-year-old cadet at the Air Force High School, almost 45 years ago. And I take pride in wearing this uniform to defend my country. Today, I am taking off this uniform to defend this homeland as well.

These recent years of our nation's history have shown conclusively that nobody could become president of this country against the will of the people or short of their support. Never can anyone force Egyptians to vote for a president they do not want. This is a fact. Therefore, I am here and, in all humility, I come before you to announce my intention to run for president of the Arab Republic of Egypt. Only your support will grant me this great honour. I stand directly before you to speak to you from my heart, as usual. I want to say to you that I am answering the demand of a wide range of Egyptians who have called on me to run for president, to attain this honour. I consider myself to be what I have always been - a soldier who is charged with serving the homeland. And I will always remain in the service of this country in any post desired by Egyptians.

'Tough challenges'

From the start, I want to be honest with you, with my country and with myself, as I have always been. We Egyptians face an extremely difficult task and a high-cost mission. The economic, social, political and security situation in Egypt - whether before the 25 January [2011] revolution or after it until the 30 June [2013] revolution - has reached a limit that requires an honest and brave confrontation of challenges. We must be honest with ourselves. Our country is facing huge challenges while our economy is weak. Millions of our youths are suffering from unemployment. This cannot be acceptable.

Millions of Egyptians are sick and cannot get treatment. This is also unacceptable. Egypt is rich with its resources and people, but it relies on grants and aid. This is not acceptable, either. Egyptians deserve to lead a better life, full of dignity, security and freedom. They deserve to have a job, food, education, medical treatment and affordable homes. This should be available to all Egyptians. All of us Egyptians face tough challenges:

- Weak state agencies that cannot perform their duties need rebuilding. This is an issue that requires firmness so that these systems recover and are coherent, standardized and in harmony.

- Production has to resume in all sectors to save our country from real dangers.

- The state needs to regain its might and status, which has suffered much in recent times.

Our mission is to restore Egypt and to rebuild it.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Field Marshal Sisi's supporters celebrated in Tahrir Square

What Egypt has witnessed over the last few years - politically or through the media, internally or externally - has occasionally made this country vulnerable. It is time for this disrespect and this intrusion to come to an end. This is a well-respected country and everyone must know that this is a decisive moment, that disrespecting Egypt has consequences, that Egypt is not a playground for any internal, regional or international parties and will never be. We do not interfere in the affairs of others and we will not allow others to interfere in our affairs. I believe the implementation of the future roadmap formulated by truly national forces was an urgent task for us. As part of this task, we successfully drafted the constitution with God's help, and here we are, taking our second step to hold presidential elections, to be followed by legislative ones.

I want to affirm that my nomination for office should not deny others their right and duty to run if they regard themselves as competent. I will certainly be happy to accept the choice of the people and the winner of the voters' confidence. I call upon the partners of this nation to realize that all of us - the sons and daughters of Egypt- are in the same boat navigating our way to safety without settling scores or pursuing temporary disputes. We want the nation to be there for all its children with no alienation, exclusion or discrimination. We have open arms for everybody, here or abroad, and all Egyptians, men and women, not convicted by a court of law will be effective partners in shaping the future with no limits or restraints.

Despite all the hardships that our country is going through, I stand before you without the slightest feeling of despair or doubt. I'd rather stand with absolute faith in God and in your strong will to change Egypt for the better and usher your country into its rightful place among advanced nations. It was your will that helped achieve most of the change. It was not the politicians or the military who removed the last two regimes. It is you, the people. The Egyptian will is great and we have known and witnessed that. However, we need to recognize that we are destined to do our utmost to overcome future difficulties. Shaping the future is a joint effort. It is a contract between the ruler and his people, where the ruler is responsible and committed before God and the people and displays honesty, loyalty, honour and patriotism. But the people are also expected to work hard and show patience. A ruler cannot succeed alone. It takes joint efforts from both the ruler and the people to succeed. All Egyptians knew that major victories could be achieved as they had done that before. Yet, our will and desire to achieve victory has to be accompanied by hard work.

The abilities and talents evident in Egyptians for 7,000 years have to go hand in hand with hard work. It is hard, sincere and devoted work that makes for successful countries. Every Egyptian able to work will be required to make real efforts. Every Egyptian has to make great efforts and I will be the first to spare no effort for a future well-earned by Egypt. Now is the time to rally for the sake of our country.

With complete openness and in the circumstances you all know about, I am not going to launch a presidential campaign in the traditional sense. However, it is your right to share in my vision of the future. This will be, as I see it, a clear platform that seeks a modern and democratic Egypt, once the High Electoral Commission permits that. I will not conduct an extravagant campaign, whether in words, funds or practices, as this is not suitable at present.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption This banner in Cairo promoting Field Marshal Sisi reads: "Sovereign citizen. Sisi, son of Egypt. You are free. Son of freedom."

'Hard work and self-sacrifice'

We are threatened by terrorists, by parties who seek to destroy our life, safety and security. It is true, this is my last day in uniform, but I will fight every day for an Egypt that is free from fear, panic or terror, not only Egypt but the entire region, God willing. I repeat what I have said before: we would rather die than allow Egyptians to be intimidated.

Finally, allow me to speak about hope. Hope is the outcome of hard work. Hope is safety. Hope is stability. Hope is the dream, the dream to usher Egypt into its leading role in the world, to restore its leverage and influence and to teach the world as it did before. I cannot perform miracles. Rather, I propose hard work and self-sacrifice. And I promise you - if I am granted the honour of the leadership - that together, the leadership and the people, we could achieve stability, safety and hope for Egypt, God willing.

God bless Egypt and her glorious people. Peace be upon you.

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