RELIGION

Egypt's president defends the military's economic role

  • FILE - In this picture provided by the office of the Egyptian Presidency, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, center, and Defense Minister Sedqi Sobh, left, stand to attention while other members of the military look on at the Air Defense Academy in Alexandria, Egypt. Egypt’s president has indignantly rejected criticism that the country’s military is being distracted from its core duties by further involving itself in the economy.  (Mohammed Samaha/Egyptian Presidency via AP, File)

    FILE - In this picture provided by the office of the Egyptian Presidency, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, center, and Defense Minister Sedqi Sobh, left, stand to attention while other members of the military look on at the Air Defense Academy in Alexandria, Egypt. Egypt’s president has indignantly rejected criticism that the country’s military is being distracted from its core duties by further involving itself in the economy. (Mohammed Samaha/Egyptian Presidency via AP, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this picture provided by the office of the Egyptian Presidency, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, gives a speech in Egypt, Monday, Sept. 26, 2016. Egypt’s president has indignantly rejected criticism that the country’s military is being distracted from its core duties by further involving itself in the economy.  (Mohammed Samaha/Egyptian Presidency via AP)

    In this picture provided by the office of the Egyptian Presidency, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, gives a speech in Egypt, Monday, Sept. 26, 2016. Egypt’s president has indignantly rejected criticism that the country’s military is being distracted from its core duties by further involving itself in the economy. (Mohammed Samaha/Egyptian Presidency via AP)  (The Associated Press)

Egypt's president has rejected criticism that the military is being distracted from its core duties by further involving itself in the economy.

President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi also dismissed suggestions of military mismanagement on Monday, saying he and Egypt's defense minister personally approve all spending.

Seeking to reassure Egyptians, el-Sissi said the military could deploy across the entire country in six hours if necessary.

Since its 2013 ouster of elected Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, Egypt's military has broadened its economic role by supervising massive infrastructure projects as well as its retail network, which distributes food at discounted prices.

The debate over the military's role in the economy recently moved center stage when it announced its intention to directly import baby formula to counter shortages.