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article imageEgypt army chief Sisi says to run for president: Kuwait paper

Omar Hasan (AFP).
By Omar Hasan (AFP)     Feb 6, 2014 in World

Egypt's army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said in comments published in a Kuwait paper Thursday he has decided to run in the presidential election scheduled for April.

"Yes, the matter has been decided and I have no choice but to respond to the call of the Egyptian people," Sisi told Kuwait's Al-Seyassah newspaper when asked if he had decided to contest the presidency.

"The call (of the people) has been heard everywhere and I will not reject it. I will seek a renewal of confidence of the people through free voting," Sisi said in the interview.

The report comes a week after the country's top military body endorsed Field Marshal Sisi's candidacy for an election, which he is assured to win after ousting democratically elected president Mohamed Morsi in July.

Egyptian police vehicles block the main gate of the Police Academy in Cairo where a new hearing in t...
Egyptian police vehicles block the main gate of the Police Academy in Cairo where a new hearing in the trial of deposed president Mohamed Morsi resumed on February 5, 2014 on charges of inciting the killing of protesters
Mahmoud Khaled, AFP

Sisi, wildly popular for overthrowing the Islamist Morsi, is now expected to resign as army chief before he officially becomes a candidate in the election scheduled to be held by mid-April.

A victory for the 59-year-old Sisi, who will have to give up his military uniform to stand for election, would continue a tradition of Egyptian presidents drawn from the armed forces since the overthrow of the monarchy in 1952.

Sisi told the daily he would seek help from the people to "cure Egypt of its chronic illness which has deteriorated in recent years".

Sisi, who is still defence minister and head of the powerful military council, warned there was no quick fix for Egypt's woes and he would not try to delude Egyptians.

Egyptians wave the national flag in Cairo's Tahrir Square during a rally marking the anniversar...
Egyptians wave the national flag in Cairo's Tahrir Square during a rally marking the anniversary of the 2011 Arab Spring uprising on January 25, 2014
Virginie Nguyen Hoang, AFP

"We will not play with their dreams or tell them that we have a magical wand," to resolve the country's massive problems, he said.

The security situation in Egypt, he added however, was improving as "today is better than yesterday and tomorrow will be better".

Should he be elected, he said, 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.

'Liquidate black terror'

"I believe the Gulf Cooperation Council states and other countries will welcome the union the aim of which, as I said, will be to liquidate black terror."

GCC states Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates have been the main financial backers of Egypt since Morsi was pushed aside.

Saudi Arabia had long seen Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood as a threat. It quickly pledged $5 billion (3.7 billion euros) in aid to the new government in Cairo, with Kuwait offering $4 billion and the UAE $4.9 billion.

To his supporters, Sisi is the best option for ending three years of instability following the 2011 uprising that ended the presidency of Hosni Mubarak, another former military officer.

But the most populous Arab nation faces a daunting task as violence has gripped the country and has become bitterly polarised.

More than 1,000 people, mostly Islamists have been killed in street clashes, and thousands imprisoned, since Morsi's overthrow.

And analysts warn that a jihadist group behind a wave of spectacular attacks poses a serious threat to Egypt's stability.

In less than a fortnight, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis (Partisans of Jerusalem) claimed responsibility for a car bombing at police headquarters in Cairo, shooting down a military helicopter with a missile in Sinai, and assassinating a police general in broad daylight in the capital.

Sisi's presidential bid is expected to draw opposition not only from most Islamists but also from some liberals.

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