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Egypt’s Sisi visits Sinai ahead of poll, says militants almost defeated

Sisi speaks at the opening session of the Egypt Economic Conference in Sharm Al-Sheikh
Sisi speaks at the opening session of the Egypt Economic Conference in Sharm Al-Sheikh

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said on Friday that militants in the Sinai Peninsula would soon be defeated as he visited troops there days ahead of an election that is set to grant him a second term, state news agency MENA reported.

Polls will open on Monday when voters choose between Sisi and one little-known candidate who supports the former field marshal. All serious opposition pulled out in January citing intimidation after the main challenger was jailed.

Sisi has said he wanted more candidates to run for office, and the election commission says the vote will be free and fair.

Last November Sisi ordered the armed forces to crush Daesh after an attack on a mosque that killed more than 300 people, in the deadliest such incident in Egypt’s history.

Sisi: Egypt not ‘ready for democracy’

In February, Egypt’s military launched its most publicised operation yet against the militants, who have waged years of attacks on the police and troops.

MENA said Sisi sat and chatted with pilots and troops on Friday during his visit to an air base in North Sinai, a restive desert region where militants have been holed up for years.

“Soon we will come here to celebrate victory over the deviants of the age,” MENA quoted him as saying, referring to the militants.

Egypt’s military says its current operation against the militants in Sinai has featured unprecedented coordination between the army, navy and air force. However, analysts and diplomats say they have seen little evidence of new tactics that would clear North Sinai of the militants.

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