Free Press Journal

Egypt’s powerful army chief to contest presidential election


Cairo: Egypt’s powerful army chief Field Marshal Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, who ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, has said he will run in the presidential election that he is widely expected to win easily.

“Yes, the matter has been decided and I have no choice but to respond to the call of the Egyptian people,” Sisi, also the Defence Minister, was quoted as saying by Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Seyassah.

“The call (of the Egyptians) has been heard everywhere and I will not reject it. I will seek a renewal of confidence of the people through free voting,” he said when asked if he would run for the presidential election.

The 59-year-old general, who has been promoted to Field Marshal, was recently given the green light by Egypt’s powerful military council to contest the first presidential elections after the army toppled Morsi in July last year amid mass protests against his rule.

Sisi, widely popular for overthrowing the Islamist regime linked to now outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, is expected to win the polls easily with no serious rivals.

His victory would mark the return of a military man to the helm of power since the overthrow of the monarchy in 1952. Longtime president Hosni Mubarak, who was ousted in a popular uprising three years ago, was an ex-air force chief.

“Egyptians have big dreams and in order to fulfill those dreams we need everyone to help and cooperate. Some rulers disturbed the country by using their position to serve their own interests,” Sisi said in an apparent reference to Morsi, who along with other top Brotherhood leaders, is facing trial for sedition.

“We don’t have a magic wand but we will not tamper with the people’s dreams and aspirations. Let’s hold our hands together and work for the country,” he said.

Sisi is expected to step down as the army chief before contesting election scheduled to be held between February 17 and April 18.

Under his leadership, Egyptian army cracked down on the Brotherhood and Islamist militants, killing scores of them.

Sisi said that if he wins he would call for a pan-Arab alliance to fight against growing “terrorism” in the region.

“We will call for an Arab union based on mutual cooperation between countries suffering from terrorism so we can wage a common war against it,” Sisi said.