President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi delivered a speech Saturday, commemorating Police Day, in which he referred to the parliament’s rejection of the Civil Service Law and confirmed that the law targeted reform.
“I cannot interfere in the parliament’s work [but] the law is seeking reform. The issue requires intensive study,” Al-Sisi said during the speech at the celebration on Saturday afternoon in the Police Academy headquarters in New Cairo.
He said Egypt is suffering under the burden of the huge number of employees in the governmental sector, highlighting that there are seven million public sector employees.
“I am not criticising anyone but just expressing a point of view,” he said. Egypt only requires a million public sector employees but confirmed that the government will not overlook the remaining six million employees’ interests.
Al-Sisi asked for concessions from Egyptians in the context of the refusal of Civil Service Law. Egypt’s parliament rejected the controversial Civil Service Law last week, with a majority of MP’s voting against it – 332 out of 468.
The law caused a dispute between the Egyptian government and labour rights groups, which said the law obliterates long-held rights such as job security and could push nearly six million employees into unemployment.
Al-Sisi further commented on recent developments in Tunisia, warning Tunisians of possible chaos and calling on them to “save [their] country”. Tunisia has been swept by a wave of protests, decrying youth unemployment, in one of the largest waves since the revolution that ousted Zine El Abidine Ben Ali five years ago.
The Tunisian revolution was a precursor to Egypt’s own revolution, which is about to see its fifth anniversary on 25 January, amid heightened security and a wide crackdown on activist hotspots.
Al-Sisi further addressed the families of policemen killed in recent militant attacks in his speech and that Egypt appreciated the “sacrifices of martyrs who have confronted terrorism and the powers of evil”. He highlighted that full care will be provided to all martyrs’ families. “We will not leave you and we will avenge the martyrs,” he said.
Minister of Interior Magdy Abdel Ghaffar delivered a speech in commemoration of Police Day, which also falls on 25 January, in which he reiterated the partnership between the police and the army to counter terrorism. He addressed a crowd of ministry officials and the police victims’ families in the presence of Al-Sisi, noting that policemen are “aware of the size of challenges”.
The minister’s speech focused on terrorism and the police’s efforts to counter it, just one day after a blast in Giza took the lives of nine people, including three policemen.
Police Day commemorates a battle that took place in Ismailia on 25 January 1952 between a police force and British occupation forces, in which 50 policemen were killed after refusing to surrender to the British forces.
More recently the day has become more widely known for commemorating the 25 January Revolution. Protesters chose Police Day to stage anti-government and police protests, which eventually toppled former president Hosni Mubarak and his regime.
The speeches by Al-Sisi and Abdel Ghaffar did not make any mention of the 25 January Revolution, along with the extreme security measurements taken ahead of the revolution’s fifth anniversary. The measures included raiding houses in Cairo’s downtown area as well as nationwide arrests.