London, Asharq Al-Awsat—Prominent figures from around the world are heading to Cairo this weekend to attend the inauguration of Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi on Sunday, which has been declared a national holiday. Security forces have stepped up their presence across the capital amid fears of Muslim Brotherhood protests.
Invitations to attend the inauguration ceremony have been sent to major world capitals, with a number of leaders expected to attend the event and other governments sending ambassadors and delegations to represent them.
Saudi Crown Prince Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud is set to attend the inauguration, with local media reporting that a nine-member Saudi delegation has already arrived in Cairo ahead of his visit.
Other Arab leaders have also confirmed they will be attending, including Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, Bahrain’s King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Representatives from the UAE, Jordan, Tunisia, Iran and Russia will also attend, in addition to delegations from a number of Nile Basin countries, including Ethiopia, Uganda, Sudan, South Sudan and Nigeria.
British deputy ambassador to Egypt Steven Hackey will represent London at the ceremony—Ambassador James Watt will not be in Egypt on Sunday. The US will send a delegation from Washington to attend the inauguration led by veteran diplomat Thomas A. Shannon, who serves as Counselor to US Secretary of State John Kerry. US and UK relations with Egypt have been rocky since the ouster of former president Mohamed Mursi in July 2013, but there are indications that diplomatic relations between Cairo and the West will improve following Sisi’s inauguration.
“The United States looks forward to working with president-elect Sisi in Egypt and his government to advance our strategic partnership and many shared interests,” US State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf said earlier this week.
Hassan Rouhani has also been invited to attend the ceremony, a trip that would make him only the second Iranian leader to visit Egypt since the two countries severed ties in 1980. Rouhani was invited in both capacities as president of Iran and president of the Non-Aligned Movement.
The inauguration ceremony, which will take place before Cairo’s Supreme Constitutional Court, will see president-elect Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi take Egypt’s oath of office. Set down in Egypt’s 2014 constitution, the oath reads: “I swear by the Almighty God to loyally uphold the republican system, respect the Constitution and the law, fully uphold the interests of the People and to safeguard the independence of the nation and the integrity of its territories.”
Egyptian presidents traditionally read the oath of office from a piece of paper, not repeating the oath after the country’s most senior judge who, in this case, is outgoing interim president Adly Mansour.
There are fears of Muslim Brotherhood protests and terrorist attacks marring Sunday’s celebrations, particularly after Cairo’s Shubra Criminal Court on Saturday sentenced 10 supporters of ousted president Mohamed Mursi to death on charges of inciting violence. A total of 48 defendants have been accused in the case, including Muslim Brotherhood General Guide Mohamed Badie, who was not among the 10 sentenced to death.