Cairo - Egypt said on Tuesday it had returned nearly 2 million people to its food subsidy programme since February, two days after tweets by President Abdul Fattah Al Sissi in which he said he was personally following the politically-sensitive matter.

Al Sissi had said in a tweet on Sunday that he understood the negative impact of subsidy cuts for some citizens and urged them not to worry.

A total of 1.8 million Egyptians, previously removed from the food staples system - which includes rice and pasta - have been returned as of September 30 in response to directions from the president, a statement by the supply ministry said.

Al Sissi’s tweets came after a tense weekend in Egypt in which police mounted a huge show of force in Cairo and other cities after calls to demonstrate against his rule.

“As part of my follow up of all procedures related to aiding people with lower income, I understand the stance of the citizens who have been negatively affected by the filteration of the subsidy cards and being removed from them,” Al Sissi said.

The supply ministry has since February been sifting through the bloated food subsidy system to weed out people whose income was believed to be too high to warrant access to cheap rice, pasta and other items.

Some people were removed for having a new car, paying high school fees for their children or having high utilities bills.

Egypt’s subsidy programme provides subsidised goods to more than 60 million out of Egypt’s population of nearly 100 million.