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Egypt's president ready to personally 'fight' against Sinai insurgents

Before being president, Sisi was a field marshall and minister of defence [Getty]

Date of publication: 15 March, 2018

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Sisi said he was personally ready to 'don combat fatigues' in the Sinai and fight against insurgents.

Egypt's president on Thursday said he was personally "ready" to join the fight against Sinai insurgents.

"I swear by God that I am ready to don combat fatigues and fight side by side" with the security forces, said Sisi, a general-turned-president, during a televised ceremony commemorating fallen soldiers. "We either live together, or die together," he added, AP reported.

Sisi's comments come just two weeks before Egyptian elections are due on 26-28 March. The president, who is seeking his second four-year team, has yet to do any traditional campaigning.

Most observers say Sisi is virtually guaranteed to win re-election. The president's only challenger is Moussa Mostafa Moussa, a little-known politician who supports the president. He and his supporters have been urging voters to cast their ballots in the election to ensure high turnout. 

In comments made Wednesday, Sisi said he would rather win a third of the vote with a good turnout than every vote with a low turnout. 

With Sisi not campaigning, the only sign of the upcoming election is tens of thousands of banners of the president that have sprung up across Egypt. 

"What is happening, to be exact, is a one-man referendum," Abdullah el-Sinnawy, a political analyst and one-time Sisi supporter, wrote Thursday in Al-Shorouk.

In Thursday's ceremony, a visibly moved Sisi listened as mothers and widows remembered their loves ones who fell in the fight against militants. 

His patriotism, of which an extreme version has swept Egypt in recent years, was also on display Thursday,

Of the fallen, Sisi said: "It's a price that is dear to us, but not too dear for the sake of Egypt." He has also warned that the whole Arab world would suffer if Egypt was to fall into the hands of militants.

"We are 100 million. We are the heart of the (Arab) nation."

In February, Egyptian forces launched an air, naval and ground assault against Sinai insurgents linked to the Islamic State. 

Experts say the timing of the Sinai campaign likely is meant to bolster national support in the lead up to presidential elections.

Egypt has battled Sinai insurgents for years, but clashes with security forces picked up after Islamist President Mohammed Morsi was deposed in 2013.

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