An Egyptian court today struck a blow against Egypt’s president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi as it rejected his controversial plan to give two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia.
Thousands of Egyptians took to the streets in April to protest against Mr Sisi’s plan in one of the largest shows of public anger since the former general took power in a military coup in 2013.
Now an Egyptian court has sided with the demonstrators and against the president by declaring that the agreement with Saudi Arabia was illegal.
It was not clear how Egypt’s authoritarian government would respond to the court’s verdict and to a judge’s decision to stand in the way of Mr Sisi’s foreign policy.
The decision, made by an administrative court, can be appealed to a higher court.
The uninhabited islands of Tiran and Sanafir are at a strategically important site at the mouth of the Gulf of Aqaba,
The Egyptian government has administered them ever since but in April Mr Sisi abruptly announced they were being given back to Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia is a major financial backer of Egypt’s stuttering economy and the move was seen as an effort to please the Saudi monarchy.
But it was met with fury and derision by the public.
Crowds turned out on the streets of Cairo shouting “The people demand the fall of the regime” – the same slogan used during the 2011 revolution that toppled former dictator Hosni Mubarak.
Mr Sisi and his allies in the media have argued that the decision will benefit Egypt economically.
Staged pro-government demonstrations also took place in April with crowds waving Saudi flags as a symbol of their support for the deal.
Yahya Dakroury, the judge in the case, said the law did not allow “any changes on the two islands for the benefit of any foreign country”.
“This is a very important step,” Khalid Ali, a prominent rights lawyer who brought the case over the deal, told the Associated Press. “I appeal to the Egyptian government … to implement the court’s ruling.”
font: telegraph.co.uk1 comment