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Egypt's Sisi ratifies deal transferring Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia

CAIRO // Egyptian president Abdel Fattah El Sisi has ratified a maritime demarcation agreement that sees the country cede sovereignty over two uninhabited Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia, the government said on Saturday.

The deal, first announced in April last year, previously fuelled rare protests in Egypt and over the past week police have arrested dozens of activists following calls for more demonstrations.

Egypt’s parliament last week backed the plan that cedes control of Tiran and Sanafir islands to Saudi Arabia, but the deal has also become subject to a legal tussle between different courts over jurisdiction.

Earlier this week, the chief of the constitutional court temporarily suspended all court decisions on the agreement until the constitutional court makes a ruling on which institution has the final say in the matter.

Both the Egyptian and Saudi governments say the islands were Saudi to begin with, but were leased to Egypt in the 1950s.

Opponents of the agreement, however, insist that Tiran and Sanafir are Egyptian.

* Reuters and Agence France-Presse

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