Egypt’s el-Sisi dismisses corruption allegations

CAIRO (AP) — Egypt’s president on Saturday angrily dismissed corruption allegations made by a businessman-in-exile against the country’s military as “sheer lies and defamation”.

In viral social media videos posted over the past week, the entrepreneur alleged large-scale misuse of public funds in the building of luxurious hotels, presidential palaces and a tomb for President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi’s mother, who died in 2014.

“I’ve built presidential palaces and I will continue to do so,” el-Sissi, a general-turned-president, said in televised comments. “I am building a new country. … All of this is not mine. It’s Egypt’s.”

El-Sisi was responding to claims by contractor Mohammed Ali, who said he had worked for the military for 15 years.

The President said his government has been building some of the biggest art and culture projects in the world in the country’s USD45 billion new administrative capital — el-Sissi’s brainchild located in the desert east of the capital of Cairo.

He denied corruption allegations as “sheer lies and defamation”, without elaborating.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. PHOTO: AP

He portrayed Ali’s videos as an attempt to weaken Egypt and undermine the public’s trust and confidence in the military and its leader.

“The military is a patriotic, honest and firm. Its firmness stems from its honour,” he said angrily.

Appearing to fight back tears, el-Sisi said he risked his life when, as defence minister, he led the military’s overthrow of an elected but divisive president in 2013 amid mass protests against his brief rule.

Ali said he recorded his video statements in Spain over the past week.

Hashtags with his name have been trending for days as he addressed millions of Egyptians using his cellphone while sitting in a closed office in an unknown location in European exile.

Ali claimed he left Egypt while the military owes him 220 million Egyptian pounds, or USD13 million, for services he provided. He did not provide evidence to support his claims.

While it’s nearly impossible to verify Ali’s claims without an independent investigation, his company’s official website says the firm is involved in joint projects worth millions of dollars with the Egyptian army.