Agence France Presse
Published — Wednesday 5 March 2014
CAIRO: Egypt’s army chief Abdel Fattah El-Sissi declared Tuesday he cannot ignore demands that he run for president, in a looming election his supporters say he is certain to win.
Sissi is seen by his supporters as a strong hand who can stabilize Egypt following three years of unrest ignited by the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak.
Officials close to Sissi told AFP the recently promoted field marshal would step down as defense minister after a law is passed to regulate the presidential election expected this spring.
“Field Marshal Sissi said he cannot turn his back when the majority wants his nomination in presidential elections,” the official MENA news agency reported.
“The next days will witness official measures,” he was quoted as saying at a graduation ceremony of military cadets in Cairo, without elaborating.
Sissi’s supporters rallied in the thousands in January calling on him to run, and the military itself has said it would back his decision to enter the election.
Sissi, if elected, may have to take unpopular measures such as streamlining Egypt’s bloated subsidies for food and fuel.
His supporters believe only Sissi, with his relatively broad support base, could pull off such measures.
Interim president Adly Mansour is expected to approve the electoral law this week or next week at the latest.
On Tuesday, a trial in which ousted President Muhammad Mursi is accused of inciting the killing of opposition protesters in December 2012 was adjourned to Thursday for the court to consider a defense request for new judges.
The crackdown, which has targeted his Muslim Brotherhood movement, also saw a Cairo court on Tuesday banning the Palestinian Hamas group, an affiliate of the Brotherhood, from operating in Egypt. The emergency court also ordered to seize Hamas’s assets.