CAIRO, (Reuters) – Egypt’s armed forces chief Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi signalled yesterday that he will run for president, saying he cannot ignore the “majority” of Egyptians who want him to do so, state news agency MENA reported.
Sisi, who ousted Egypt’s first freely elected president, Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood, in July, said “official procedures” concerning his candidacy were expected in coming days.
MENA quoted him as saying at a graduation ceremony at the Cairo war college that he could “not turn his back on calls by the majority of Egyptians for him to run for president”.
Sisi has been coy about his intentions for months, but his speech was the clearest pointer yet that he will stand for the top post in an election he is expected to win by a landslide.
Most Egyptians regard him as a decisive figure who can end the political turmoil that has gripped Egypt since a popular uprising toppled autocratic president Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
Sisi, who was Mubarak’s military intelligence chief and is now defence minister, has become so popular that his image appears on T-shirts and posters and even on chocolate bars.
Many Egyptians liken him to Gamal Abdel Nasser, the colonel who led a coup against the monarchy in 1952, set up an army-led autocracy and rounded up thousands of Brotherhood members.