Washington (AFP) – US President Donald Trump congratulated Egyptian former general Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on securing another four years as president, hailing the “strategic partnership” between the two countries Monday.
The White House said Trump and the Egyptian president spoke by phone after the Egyptian won 97 percent of the vote against a man who was, until recently, his campaign manager.
“President Trump congratulated President Al Sisi on his reelection,” the White House said in a statement.
“The two leaders affirmed the strategic partnership between the United States and Egypt, and noted that they look forward to advancing this partnership and addressing common challenges.”
Trump has repeatedly bucked Washington norms since coming to office, congratulating foreign leaders on elections that his own officials say were dubious, unfair or rigged.
The United States and Egypt have long-standing security ties, but those ties have been tested in recent years as Sisi has moved to shut down political debate.
Sisi, who as army chief ousted Egypt’s first freely elected president Islamist Mohamed Morsi after mass street protests in 2013, won his first term in 2014 with 96.9 percent of valid votes.
Sisi’s serious rivals this time round had withdrawn from the race, been sidelined or detained.
The State Department earlier noted “reports of constraints on freedoms of expression and association in the run-up to the elections.”
Spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the United States would “encourage respect for and protection of basic rights and freedoms.”
“We will continue to encourage a broadening of opportunities for political participation for Egyptians, and emphasize the importance of the protection of human rights and the vital role of civil society in Egypt.”