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July 25, 2016 4:42 pm

Egyptian President Denies Rumors of Assassination Plot Behind His Decision Not to Attend Arab League Summit

avatar by Ruthie Blum

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Photo: Wikipedia.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Photo: Wikipedia.

Cairo denied rumors on Monday that the reason Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi canceled his participation in the upcoming Arab League summit in Mauritania this week was due to a suspected assassination plot, the website Egypt Independent reported.

According to the site and other Egyptian media outlets, in an earlier report in the newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm – the Arabic-language, privately owned companion newspaper to the Egypt Independent – anonymous sources claimed that Egyptian intelligence had received information about a planned attempt on el-Sisi’s life in Nouakchott, the Mauritanian capital where the Arab League is set to hold its 27th annual summit.

These unnamed sources said that an extremist group, which receives funding and advanced training and equipment from a state sponsor of terrorism, last month staked out the place where el-Sisi was slated to stay during the summit.

According to Al-Masry Al-Youm, this was not the first time a plot was hatched to attack el-Sisi on a trip abroad. The newspaper said that during his presidential campaign in May 2014, el-Sisi told television interviewers, “I believe in destiny. No one will take my life earlier than is destined. I fear nothing. I have already survived two assassination attempts.”

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But presidential spokesperson Alaa Youssef told the independent Daily News Egypt that no such plots were uncovered – and that this had nothing to do with el-Sisi’s last-minute cancellation. Nor did Youssef comment on the president’s replacement, Prime Minister Sherif Ismail.

According to the Egypt Independent, el-Sisi sent a message to Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, extending his wishes for a successful summit and expressing hope that decisions would emerge to enhance solidarity in facing challenges confronting the Arab world. He also met with Ismail to discuss the issues the prime minister should raise at the two-day summit, which kicks off on Tuesday.

Among the topics on the agenda of the summit, which was supposed to take place on March 29, but was postponed when its initial host country, Morocco, bowed out – are the war in Syria, the Palestinians, Iraq and Libya.

According to the Saudi-owned, pan-Arab network Al Arabiya, the Moroccan Foreign Ministry released a statement in February explaining the country’s decision not to host the event.

“Amid the lack of important decisions and concrete initiatives to submit to the heads of states, this summit will be just another occasion to approve ordinary resolutions and to pronounce speeches that give a false impression of unity,” the statement read.

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