Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has addressed the nation for the first time since undergoing surgery in Heidelberg, Germany on 6 March. The president made a public appearance in the city of Ismailia, where he attended the Second Field Army’s celebration of the 28th anniversary of the liberation of the Sinai.
In his speech, the president emphasized his commitment to fairness in both parliamentary elections at the end of this year as well as presidential elections next year. The “energetic interaction” between different groups in Egyptian society, he said, is “proof of Egyptians’ vitality and a testimony to the unprecedented freedom that Egyptians enjoy, which allows them to express their opinions and partake in an independent press.”
Mubarak added that he welcomes such social dynamism “as long as constitutional precepts and the rule of law are adhered to and all actors have good intentions and the interests of the nation in mind.” He cautioned that such dynamism could transform into confrontation, rivalry and conflict, saying, “We must all be careful that healthy competition in the service of the nation and its citizens does not transform into a slippery slope that exposes our collective future to danger.”
Speaking on the anniversary of Sinai’s liberation, the president said that Egypt liberated Sinai through war and peace, without ever giving in to defeat. He said that Egypt waged a long war of attrition and then a heroic war of liberation, paying a price in blood and treasure to end the Israeli occupation of its lands and reclaim its national dignity and pride. He added that Egypt had expended the utmost efforts to achieve a comprehensive peace and establish an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. He also emphasized that Egypt was committed to peace as long as Israel demonstrated a similar level of commitment.
Soldiers in the armed forces performed a song in honor of Mubarak’s recovery. Folk groups participating in the celebration displayed paintings of the president surrounded by flowers as the famous ode “Safety and Love to you Mr. President” was performed.
Security was heightened in Ismailia before the president’s visit. Security forces cleared streets near the path of Mubarak’s motorcade and instructed residents over a loudspeaker to stay in their homes during the visit and to avoid watching the proceedings from their balconies. Hundreds of sanitation workers spent the night clearing trash off the streets before Mubarak’s visit.
Translated from the Arabic Edition.