Egypt hosted embattled Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on Sunday, saying it supports stability in the country undergoing popular demonstrations against al-Bashir’s 29-year rule.
After meeting with President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to discuss deepening relations and improving economic ties, the two leaders gave a joint televised address to underline their continuing cooperation.
El-Sissi said he was eager to maintain the close historical ties between the two countries, while al-Bashir said the protests against him were not as bad as they seemed, accusing outside groups of trying to undermine his rule in what he compared to Egypt’s own experience during its 2011 uprising.
“There are many negative organizations working on shaking the stability and security of the region,” al-Bashir said. “We acknowledge that there is a problem, we are not claiming there is nothing but it is not as big as described by some media platforms. It’s an attempt to copy the so-called Arab Spring for Sudan.”
Al-Bashir, who took power in a 1989 military coup, has said any change of leadership could only come through the ballot box. He is expected to run for another term in office next year.
Egypt’s 2011 Arab Spring uprising overthrew longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak, ushering in years of instability that saw the country led first by the army and then by an elected but divisive Islamist, who el-Sissi ousted in 2013 when he was defense minister.
Al-Bashir was indicted in 2010 by the International Criminal Court for genocide in Darfur. He restricts his travel to friendly Arab and African countries.