CAIRO (MEMO/Middle East Eye) – In a cynical attempt to calm the Egyptian population about recent price hikes, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has suggested that Egyptians eat leaves from trees.
In a tweet, al-Sisi suggested that Egyptians should be patient and not demand immediate solutions.
In March Egypt turned to the IMF for the third time in six years to apply for a loan as the country grapples with corruption, the global coronavirus pandemic and now the war in Ukraine.
Analysts have predicted that a further rise in fuel and food prices are likely to stoke civil unrest in Egypt where a third of the population live below the poverty line.
Al-Sisi has made a string of outrageous comments over the years which his critics say is to deflect responsibility for his mishandling of the economy and spending money on vanity projects like the new capital instead of building a welfare state.
In 2017 al-Sisi was mocked online for asking citizens to donate their spare change to charitable projects.
He has also asked Egyptians to lose weight to save money after the price of fruit and vegetables skyrocketed after the government’s economic reforms slashed food subsidies.
A member of the Egyptian security services Mohamed Mansour said it was “rude” to complain about rising prices and food shortages and asked Egyptians to “sacrifice their dinner” for the sake of the country.
In 2019 the president asked Egyptians to work 12 hour days to increase economic output.
Egypt’s finance minister has cautioned that increases in food prices triggered by the conflict in Ukraine could kill “millions” of people globally, echoing warnings made by the UN and G7 countries over the worldwide wheat shortage.
Mohamed Maait expressed concern regarding “food insecurity” around the world in an interview with Financial Times in London.
In remarks contracting the earlier suggestion by Sisi over the economic condition in the country, he insisted that Egypt has enough wheat to last until the end of the year.
Ukraine and Russia are among the biggest producers and exporters of wheat, corn and cooking oil, the global supplies of which have been threatened since 24 February, when the conflict started.
“This is something that we have to be very careful about,” Maait said. “We will feel shame if we find that millions of people are dying because of food insecurity. They are not responsible for that, they didn’t do anything wrong.”