Cairo and London, Asharq Al-Awsat—Egyptian President-elect Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi will take the oath of office before the Supreme Constitutional Court in Cairo on Sunday, after the Presidential Election Commission officially confirmed his election victory on Tuesday.
The inauguration ceremony will be attended by a number of regional and international leaders and heads of state, with messages of support and congratulation to Egypt’s new president being sent to Cairo from capitals around the world.
The Presidential Election Commission on Tuesday confirmed that the popular former defense minister was elected president with 96.9 percent of the vote, securing a total of 23,780,104 votes. Nasserite presidential contender Hamdeen Sabahy secured just 3.09 percent of the vote, or 757,511 ballots.
Egypt’s president-elect appeared in a televised speech on Tuesday evening, during which he thanked the Egyptian people for their support, and said that “now is the time for work” in order to rebuild the country’s institutions and its flagging economy.
Messages of congratulation
Messages of congratulation were received in Cairo from around the world. The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, described Sisi’s victory as a “historic day” and pledged that Riyadh would continue its support for Egypt.
“In this day of history and in a new stage of the march of Egypt, a country of true Islam and Arabism, I have the pleasure to congratulate you on the kind confidence bestowed on you by the people who entrusted you to carry their hopes, aspirations and dreams for a better future. It is that kind of confidence where hearts before hands are bound together, among all segments, classes, orientations and religions of Egyptian society to face an exceptional phase of Egypt’s modern history,” the Saudi Press Agency quoted King Abdullah as saying.
King Abdullah affirmed his “love” for Egypt as his “second country,” stressing his commitment to the unity, stability and security of the Egyptian people. “The forthcoming period is full of great responsibility that necessitates every man and woman of our sisterly people of Egypt to become as one soul and to remain committed to responsibility, awareness, vigilance and patience,” the King said.
Sisi also received messages of congratulation from a number of other Arab countries.
“Congratulations on the precious trust given to you by the brotherly people of Egypt in facing the challenges they are experiencing, and to achieve their aspirations and ambitions in stability, development, progress, prosperity, pride and dignity,” United Arab Emirates President Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed said in a message to Egypt’s president-elect.
Jordan’s King Abdullah also hailed Sisi’s election. “We are confident of your wisdom and ability to support your nation’s path of building in the present and in the future according to a manner that is befitting for the dear Egyptian people and their leading position,” a Jordanian Royal Court statement said.
“I assure our commitment to enhancing historic brotherly bonds and ties, based on cooperation, that unite our two nations and peoples, and continuing coordination on the various issues related to our Arab and Islamic nations,” the Jordanian statement continued.
Moroccan King Mohammad VI described Sisi’s election as “historic,” adding that Egypt is passing through a “critical” stage. The Moroccan King described Sisi as a “veteran statesman” and a “wise leader” who has “an honest devotion to a great country.” He pledged that Morocco would remain committed to maintaining and expanding its deep existing relations with Cairo, saying this would benefit both Morocco and Egypt, and the Arab and Islamic worlds at large.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague congratulated Sisi on his election victory, Tuesday, saying that Britain “looks forward to working with his government to strengthen the broad and productive relationship between both our peoples.”
“We look to President-elect Sisi to take steps to implement the rights contained in Egypt’s constitution by opening up political space, especially with regard to freedom of expression and association.”
US President Barack Obama said on Wednesday that he is looking forward to working with Egypt’s new president, but pressed Cairo about a “restrictive political environment.”
“We urge the President-elect and the government to adopt the reforms that are needed to govern with accountability and transparency, ensure justice for every individual, and demonstrate a commitment to the protection of the universal rights of all Egyptians,” a White House statement said.
Sisi’s inauguration ceremony is due to take place on Sunday evening. A number of foreign heads of state and international dignitaries have been invited to attend, including Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, an Iranian source in Cairo said that the Egyptian Presidency had issued an official invitation to Rouhani to attend the inauguration. “The invitation has indeed been made,” the source said. “But it is still unknown which individuals from the Iranian leadership will attend Sisi’s inauguration.”
Iran’s semi-official FARS news agency also reported that an official invitation had been sent, saying that the head of Egypt’s representatation in Iran, Khaled Said Omara, had personally delivered the invitation from Egypt’s interim president, Adly Mansour, to the office of President Rouhani in Tehran.
Egypt’s state-owned MENA news agency confirmed that an invitation had been extended to the Iranian president, but stressed that it was on the basis of Iran’s current presidency of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).
Relations between Egypt and Iran have been strained since the Islamic Revolution in 1979. Diplomatic ties were cut in 1980 after deposed Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, was offered asylum in Egypt by President Anwar Sadat.
Under former Islamist president Mohamed Mursi, however, there appeared to be an improvement in relations, with Mursi visiting Tehran in August 2012 for a NAM meeting. This was followed by a visit to Cairo by former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in February 2013, who became the first Iranian leader to visit Egypt since the 1979 revolution.
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, a source from the Egyptian Presidency said that in addition to Iran’s president, a number of foreign heads of state and dignitaries had been invited to attend the inauguration, especially those from “countries whose position regarding the June 30 revolution was clear.”
It remains unclear whether an invitation has been extended to Qatari officials to attend the ceremony, after relations between Cairo and Doha were soured following the ouster of former president Mursi last July.
Relations with Turkey have also been strained since Mursi’s ouster, with Ankara critical of what it deems to have been a military coup last July. On Tuesday, Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmi criticized comments by Turkish Deputy Prime minister Emrullah İşler, who, according to Turkish news agency Anadolu, described the Egyptian presidential elections as a “comedy.”
Speaking at a meeting with EU ambassadors, Fahmy said that “international and regional observers said the elections were fair,” and criticized “the continued Turkish interference in [Egyptian] internal affairs.”
Ahmed Imbabi contributed reporting from Cairo.