President Donald Trump on Monday called Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to congratulate him on winning last week’s Egyptian presidential election, according to el-Sissi’s office. The Egyptian leader faced virtually no real competition and won 97 percent of the vote.
wo weeks earlier Trump spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin to congratulate him on winning Russia’s election, which many observers said was marked by fraud.
El-Sissi faced no serious challenger after a string of potentially strong candidates were either arrested or withdrew under pressure, according to The Associated Press.
“President Trump offered his sincere congratulations for President El Sissi’s success in the presidential elections, wishing Egypt progress and prosperity,” el-Sissi’s office said in a statement Monday. “He expressed the keenness of the U.S. to strengthen its strategic relations with Egypt in addition to continuing coordination and consultation on issues of mutual interest.”
Earlier Monday, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert issued a statement that neither congratulated nor praised el-Sissi, saying the Untied States looked forward to working with him but noting “reports of constraints on freedoms of expression and association in the run-up to the elections.”
The statement from the Egyptian president’s office made no mention of whether Trump raised any issues regarding the electoral process.
Last month, Trump came under intense criticism from lawmakers after saying he congratulated Putin on his win at the polls. At the time, the White House did not comment on whether it thought the Russian elections were free and fair.
Last year Trump offered his congratulations to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan following a controversial referendum, Turkey’s presidential palace said at the time. Substantial voting irregularities were reported to have taken place during the Turkish referendum.