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Egypt's Sisi moves nearer to presidential bid

Army chief tells state media he "can't ignore the will of the people" in strongest statement yet on running for office.

Last updated: 04 Mar 2014 20:33
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Sisi emerged as the most popular political figure in Egypt after he overthrew Mohamed Morsi in July [AFP]

Egypt's army chief, Field Marshall Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, is to officially announce he will run for the presidency, state media has reported.

According to the reports, in comments on his Facebook page on Tuesday, Sisi said: "No one who loves his nation and loves Egyptians can ignore the desire of so many of them, or turn his back on their will.

“The coming days will see the completion of the procedures that are officially necessary in this context."

Don't imagine that Egypt can stand up unless we help each other and put our hands together to solve the problems that piled up over more than 30 years.

Abdel Fattah el-Sisi

Egypt's army-backed interim government resigned unexpectedly last week, with prime minister-designate Ibrahim Mahlab officially reappointing several other ministers.

However Sisi, who must vacate his position as defence minister in order to have a tilt at the top job, had not announced any intention to run.

The official MENA news agency reported that Sisi said "he cannot turn his back when the majority wants his nomination in presidential elections".

“Don't imagine that Egypt can stand up unless we help each other and put our hands together to solve the problems that piled up over more than 30 years,'' he was reported as saying. "No one can solve these problems alone, but only when Egyptians stand shoulder to shoulder."

Officials close to Sisi told AFP the field marshal would step down as defence minister after a law was passed to regulate the election expected this spring.

Interim President Adly Mansour is expected to approve the election law by next week by the latest.

Popular figure

Sisi, 59, emerged as the most popular political figure in Egypt after he removed Mohamed Morsi, a former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, from the presidency in July.

Sisi'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, which he is certain to win.

He is seen by his supporters as a strong hand who can stabilise Egypt following three years of unrest ignited by the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak. 

Meanwhile on Tuesday, an Egyptian court banned all activities of the Palestinian group Hamas, which runs the neighbouring Gaza Strip, and is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Hamas had been declared a terrorist group by Egypt's army-backed government and has faced a crackdown since Morsi's ouster.

Egyptian authorities see Hamas as a major security threat, accusing the group of supporting al-Qaeda-inspired fighters in the Sinai peninsula, allegations it denies.

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Source:
Agencies
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