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Egypt’s army chief al-Sisi ‘may run for president’


Egypt’s army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Saturday said he could envision running for the presidency if the people request it and the military supports the bid, state media reported.


Sisi, who ousted Egypt’s first democratically elected leader Mohammed Morsi last July after mass protests against his one-year rule, is widely expected to seek the top job but has not yet announced plans to run.

“If I nominate myself, there must be a popular demand, and a mandate from my army,” the state newspaper Al-Ahram quoted him as saying at a conference with Egyptian officials.

After the army overthrew Morsi, it appointed an interim president and outlined a roadmap for democratic transition.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, Egypt is set to hold a referendum on a new constitution - a major milestone in that roadmap which will clear the way for presidential and parliamentary elections.

Analysts and politicians say it is unlikely that Sisi will announce plans to run before the referendum is complete.

The referendum marks the first time Egyptians have voted since Morsi’s removal and is seen to be as much a public vote of confidence in the roadmap and Sisi as in the charter itself.

The state MENA news agency quoted Sisi on Saturday as urging Egyptians to “assume national responsibility and turn out in force to vote.”

Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood supporters have held frequent protests calling for his reinstatement. But security forces have launched a massive crackdown against the movement, which it calls a terrorist group, arresting its leaders and forcing others underground. More than 1,000 people have been killed in street clashes since Morsi’s ouster.

There is little doubt that the popular Sisi would win the presidential election. He is seen as a strong man capable of bringing stability to Egypt after more than three years of turmoil. He has had songs dedicated to him and his face appears on chocolates and posters on the streets of Egypt.

Morsi’s supporters, however, view him as the mastermind of a bloody military coup.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)

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