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CAIRO – Egypt's president expressed his displeasure over recent online postings urging him to step down because of how he is handling the country's troubled economy, saying he is "upset" over the posts.
President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said in angry, televised remarks on Saturday that the postings were inappropriate and that he has been working hard to pluck Egypt out of its economic crisis.
The #Sissi_leave hashtag surfaced this summer following steep price hikes for fuel, drinking water and electricity as part of austerity measures designed to overhaul the economy, still recovering from years of turmoil following the 2011 popular uprising against longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak.
El-Sissi was first elected in 2014, a year after he, as defense minister, led the military's ouster of Mohammed Morsi, an Islamist who was freely elected but whose one year in office proved divisive.
The general-turned-president has since taking office launched multibillion-dollar infrastructure, development and housing projects that he says will transform the country of some 94 million people.
He has also overseen the largest crackdown on dissent in Egypt's recent history, jailing thousands of Islamists as well as some secular pro-democracy activists, and rolled back many of the freedoms won following the 2011 uprising.
In March, el-Sissi won a second, four-year term, after running virtually unopposed.
"They have pushed us into being a nation of poverty, a nation of neediness, but when I begin working toward getting us out of this, I find the hashtag #Sissi — leave," he said. "Should I have been upset or not? I was upset. I was upset."
El-Sissi has in the past told Egyptians not to listen to anyone but him and repeated that he would only listen to viewpoints different from his if they are based on thorough research.
In his latest remarks, el-Sissi also repeated his frequent assertions about unnamed parties tirelessly working to undermine and destabilize the country.
Egypt, he warned, would not survive another "revolutionary" phase like that of 2011.
"Everything is linked to stability and security. I want us to develop an acute fear of instability," he said.
Along with the economic challenges, Egypt also faces an insurgency by Islamic militants in northern Sinai.
Along with battling militants in the peninsula, security forces also struggle to secure the porous borders with neighboring Libya and Sudan, used by militants to smuggle weapons and fighters into Egypt and for cross-border attacks.