Egypt’s army chief Sisi gives strong indication he will run for presidency
Field Marshal Abdel Fatah al-Sisi says he could not avoid the will of the ‘majority’ of Egyptians
Egypt’s army chief Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (second from right) awards a military cadet a medal during a ceremony in Cairo. Photograph: Reuters/Ministry of Defence
The head of the Egyptian army has given his clearest sign yet that he will run for Egypt’s presidency, a race he is widely expected to win.
Field Marshal Abdel Fatah al-Sisi’s candidacy has long been seen as a forgone conclusion, following a series of statements and leaks by officials that strongly suggest he wants to succeed Mohamed Morsi, the man he ousted from office last July, as Egypt’s head of state.
But Gen Sisi had never himself made an official statement through state media about whether he definitely intends to run for office. That changed yesterday when he issued a statement through Egypt’s state news agency saying he could not avoid the will of what he called the “majority” of Egyptians – though he still stopped short of officially declaring his candidacy.
But a senior military officer close to Gen Sisi confirmed that the statement amounted to “an informal announcement”.
The source, who asked to remain anonymous, said that Gen Sisi was waiting for new laws governing the presidential elections to be enacted before formally beginning his campaign.
“Gen Sisi is not a free man like the other candidates,” the officer said. “He is a government official, he respects the law, so he’s waiting for all the relevant laws to be issued, and all the election procedures to be taken – and only then will there be the official announcement.”
If he runs, Gen Sisi is widely expected to win by a large margin, as he has the backing of all state institutions, almost all state and private media, and a large section of the population, who laud him for overthrowing Mr Morsi last July following days of mass protests against his rule.
Hundreds of thousands of Sisi supporters filled Cairo’s Tahrir Square in January to call for the field marshal to run. But public sentiment is hard to quantify in Egypt.
More than 98 per cent of participants voted for Egypt’s new constitution in January, a sign of strong support for Sisi. But only 38.6 per cent of those eligible to vote took part.
– ( Guardian service)