President Mohamed Morsi arrived in Sohag on Saturday morning with Prime Minister Hisham Qandil and other high level Cairo officials. The visit was intended to key in on developmental challenges in Upper Egyptian governorates and focus on improving the government services provided to Upper Egyptians.
Morsi met with heads from various cities of the Sohag governorate. He discussed plans to launch an EGP 713m development project for small businesses, providing 45,000 new jobs according to a statement from the presidency.
The president also marked the beginning of a third phase of the National Housing Project, as part of that phase will create 1,272 residential units in Sohag.
Minister of Irrigation Mohamed Bahaa Eddin accompanied Morsi on his visit, as part of an initiative to reexamine and develop solutions to current water problems facing Sohag.
The president reaffirmed his administration’s commitment to providing assistance to Upper Egyptians during a speech at the stadium in Sohag. He had discussed issues including housing, unemployment, infrastructure, security, and utilities during his visit, according to state-owned Al-Ahram.
Morsi highlighted that Upper Egyptians had been deprived of many basic services and that the government was working to find ways to make these services available.
The president’s visit to Sohag was met by demonstrations in different parts of the city, and supporters and detractors of the president reportedly clashed with Central Security Forces (CSF) whom intervened with teargas.
Saleh Farouq, a member of the Popular Current in Sohag, said his and other groups including the Al-Karama and the Al-Mo’tamar parties had planned demonstrations ahead of the president’s visit, numbering at around 1,000 protesters.
Farouq said members from the Al-Raya Party, holding black flags, and the Freedom and Justice Party attacked the demonstration, which had been taking place next to the governorate headquarters. The two sides exchanged rocks before CSF managed to create a buffer between the two sides, using teargas.
The clashes resulted in six injured, according to Farouq.
Morsi was scheduled to visit Sohag University during his visit; however this was cancelled due to protests at the university by students and faculty against the president and the Muslim Brotherhood, according to state-owned Al-Ahram.
In a statement, the president said he would conduct follow-up meetings in three months to examine progress made in Sohag and the rest of Upper Egypt.