Sisi lays flowers for Sinai Liberation Day, vows to protect the State from chaos

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, commander-in-chief of Egypt's armed forces, placed flowers at the memorial for military martyrs in Nasr City on Sunday, one day ahead of Sinai Liberation Day, on which opposition activists have threatened to hold mass anti-government protests.

Sisi was accompanied by Defense Minister Sedqy Sobhy, Armed Forces Chief-of-Staff Mahmoud Hegazy and various senior military officers. The attending officers paid their respects to those who gave their lives to defend Egypt as the national anthem played.

Sisi also visited the tomb of deceased president Anwar al-Sadat, and then greeted Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel Aal, Prime Minister Sherif Ismail and several ministers.

Sinai Liberation Day marks the final withdrawal of Israeli troops from Sinai in April 1982 after 15 years of occupation that started with the Six-Day War in 1967.

The day is a national holiday, but this year opposition activists are planning to hold protests against the recent transfer of two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabian control. On April 8, Sisi signed a deal with King Salman bin Abdel Aziz redrawing the maritime borders between the two nations, as a result of which the islands of Tiran and Sanafir were transfered to Saudi Arabia.

The agreement has yet to be ratified by Egypt's parliament, but it has already stirred controvery, with many activists and opposition figures insisting that Sisi had no right to hand the territory over to Saudi Arabia. Since the signing, there have been several small-scall protets against the move, with activists calling for large-scale public protests on Sinai Liberation Day on Monday.

The Egyptian government, has insisted that the islands belong originally to Saudi Arabia and had simply been under Egyptian protection since 1950, a narrative rejected by opposition figures.

On Sunday, Interior Minister Magdy Abdel Ghaffar warned activists against crossing a "red line" by seeking to create chaos or undermine national stability on Monday.

Echoing Ghaffar's words, Sisi said that the State will firmly address any attempts to disrupt stability or terrorize civilians on the national holiday.

He praised the great efforts made in establishing security and stability over the last few years, and stressed that it is the responsiblity of the people to preserve this.

“Together we will protect the State from attempts to undermine it. They will not succeed, and we will not allow anyone to take Egypt, our safety and our institutions from us,” Sisi said.

Security forces in Cairo and elsewhere have been taking precautions to prevent mass protests, making numerous arrests of people suspected of involvement. Among them are 14 activists arrested recently by the East Cairo Prosectuion on charges of inciting demonstrations and seeking to overthrown the government by means of force.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Ahmed Emad Eddin has placed the Egyptian Ambulance Organization on high alert, with orders to ensure emergency response vehicles are ready to respond to incidents on Monday. Public and central hospitals have also been placed on high alert, ordered to make preparations for large numbers of casulaties in case of clashes.

Medical facilities across the country have been told to coordinate fully on the availability of drugs and medical equipment, including blood bags.

A central task force has been formed to coordinate the medical response to protests, including reports of the numbers of injured and where they are being treated.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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