Saudi King Abdullah Tuesday hailed the election of Egypt’s ex-army chief Abdel Fatah al-Sisi to the presidency as an “historic day,” calling for a donors conference to help Egypt through its economic troubles.
The king, whose oil-rich nation is a strong ally of Egypt, said Sisi’s sweeping win with 96.9 percent of the vote represents a “historic day and a new stage for Egypt,” in a telegram published by Saudi state news agency SPA.
“To the brothers and friends of Egypt … I invite all to a donors conference … to help it overcome its economic crisis,” he said.
Riyadh pledged billions of dollars in aid to Egypt’s new authorities after the overthrow of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi last July.
Saudi Arabia had long seen Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood as a threat. After his ouster, it quickly pledged $5 billion (3.7 billion euros) in aid to Cairo, with Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates offering a combined $7 billion.
King Abdullah also urged “brothers and friends to avoid meddling in Egypt’s internal affairs,” warning that harming Egypt would amount to “harming Islam, Arabism and Saudi Arabia.”
The king appeared to be referring to Qatar, the only Gulf country to back Morsi, and whose relations with Saudi Arabia and most of its other neighbours in the region have been strained.
He also urged Sisi to open up to the opposition, encouraging him to “accept the other opinion through a national dialogue with all parties whose hands have not been stained by the blood of the innocents.”
The UAE also swiftly congratulated Sisi over his landslide win.
“We congratulate you for this precious vote of confidence given to you by Egyptians amid the challenges that they face,” UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan said in a message published by WAM state news agency.