The Egyptian general who deposed Muslim Brotherhood-backed former President Mohammed Morsi in July 2013, announced late Wednesday he will run for president. Abdul Fatah el-Sisi, who holds the rank of Field Marshal as head of the country’s armed forces, is also the Defense Minister in Egypt’s current transitional government.
“These recent years of our nation’s history have conclusively shown that no one can become president of Egypt against the will of the people or short of their support,” Sisi said in his speech on national television. “Never can anyone force Egyptians to vote for a president they do not want. Therefore I am here before you humbly stating my intention to run for the presidency of the Arab Republic of Egypt . . . Only your support will grant me this great honor.”
Following el-Sisi’s announcement, Interim President Adly Mansour issued a statement saying he had promoted Egyptian military chief of staff Lt. Gen. Sedki Sobhi to the rank of first lieutenant general.
According to the state-run Al Ahram newspaper, el-Sisi met earlier with military officials to tell them he was stepping down. The meeting was also expected to help determine who would succeed the Egyptian strongman to the post. Today (Thursday) he is expected to submit his official resignation to President Mansour at a Cabinet meeting.
The radical Islamist opposition movement in Egypt hates el-Sisi and continue to riot against the transitional government that succeeded Mohammed Morsi. They also perceive el-Sisi to be instrumental in this week’s Supreme Court decision to sentence 529 Muslim Brotherhood supporters to death. Ongoing street violence and bloody clashes with police by Islamist opposition forces have led to at least one death this week, according to Al Ahram, quoting figures from Egypt’s health ministry, with eight others injured in the riots.
El-Sisi has also been largely responsible for Egypt’s recent cooperation with Israel in clearing and destroying the terrorist smuggling tunnels that have honeycombed the area under the borders between Egypt, Gaza and Israel, a move that has earned the military leader the enmity of terrorists in Sinai and Hamas leaders in Gaza.
The general is widely supported by moderates on both sides of the border who would like to see the country get back to a “normal life” and by those in Egypt who are heartily sick of the violence and lack of tourism in a nation that once played host to regular visits from wealthy international clientele.