Hollande Calls for Democratic Transition in Egypt On Sisi Paris Visit

French President Franccedilois Hollande called on Egypt to pursue its “democratic transition” after lunching with Egyptian leader Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Wednesday. France has won arms and transport contracts from Cairo, despite NGO’s complaints about press freedom and other rights in the military-ruled country.

“We hope the process will continue, a process of democratic transition that respects the roadmap and fully permits Egypt’s development,” Hollande told the press when presenting a joint declaration at the Elyseacutee presidential palace.

Egypt is “going through an extremely difficult period” with “considerable human consequences”, Hollande commented, adding that he wanted “as much investment as possible”.

Sisi was eager to reassure French tourists, who may have been put off by violence in his country, that they “have nothing to fear”.

Three cooperation agreements were signed after the lunch, one of them a declaration of intention for Franco-Egyptian cooperation to develop the Cairo metro.

The main points during Sisi’s two-day visit were expected to be:

Arms sales: French shipbuilder DCNS has signed a contract estimated at one billion euros to supply four Gowind-class Corvettes to Egyptian forces, a deal that has aroused interest in Gulf states. French officials are concerned about competition from Russia and China, which is believed to be pitching to renovate Mirage 2000 airplanes bought from France in 1980. France is offering border control technology. Amnesty International has called on France not to sell weapons to Egypt because of rights concerns following Sisi’s toppling of the elected Muslim Brotherhood president Mohamed Morsi.

Press freedom: Relatives of three imprisoned Al Jazeera TV journalists hoped that Hollande would raise their case with Sisi. A law allowing foreign prisoners to be extradited has raised hopes that two – Mohammed Fadel Fahy and Peter Greste – could be sent to Canada and Australia respectively but the third, Baher Mohammed, is only has Egyptian nationality. Press freedom campaign Reporters Without Borders asked Hollande to tell Sisi that “current excesses are incompatible with an improvement in relations between Paris and Cairo”, claiming that “the authorities are cracking down in a shocking manner on journalists in the name of combatting terrorism”.

Libya: Fighting between Islamist militias and pro-government forces in Libya is of concern for Egypt, which shares its western border with the strife-torn country, and France, which is concerned about jihadist groups crossing to the south into the Sahel. Egypt is backing the Libyan army and UAE air strikes, while Paris hopes to establish an “inter-Libyan dialogue”.

Source : Radio France Internationale