Egypt's Sisi Quits Army to Run for President
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the general who ousted Egypt's first freely elected leader last July, declared his candidacy for a presidential election he is expected to easily win.
Wearing military fatigues and speaking in a nationally televised address , Sisi said it was the last time he would wear an army uniform and that "I give up the uniform to defend the nation" and run in the elections, which are expected next month.
"I have spent all my life as a soldier for the sake of the country ... I am telling you that I intend to run for the president of Egypt, and this support from you will give me this honour," he said.
Sisi said Egypt was "threatened by terrorists" and spoke of returning the country to dignity.
"It wasn't the army or political forces who ousted the last two regimes; it was you the people. My entering the presidency race doesn't not mean that others shouldn't," he said.
The 59-year-old Sisi is widely expected to win the vote, and restore a tradition of presidents from military background that Egypt had for all but one year since 1952.
He has been the country's most powerful figure since removing President Mohammed Mursi, and Mursi's once politically dominant Muslim Brotherhood has since been declared a terrorist group.
Among his supporters, Sisi is wildly popular. Many see him as the kind of strongman needed to stabilise a country in crisis. But he is reviled by the Islamist opposition as the mastermind of a coup against a freely elected leader.
Following Sisi's announcement, there were protests by supporters of Mursi on the streets of the capital Cairo.
Magdy Karkar, a senior member of a Brotherhood-led coalition organising anti-government protests, said Sisi's candidacy confirms that Mursi's removal was a coup aimed at wrecking democracy, as Islamists have contended.
"His running will not achieve stability in Egypt. It's true he has many supporters who love him or even worship him. But on the other hand, there are those who hate General el-Sisi and hold him responsible for the blood that has been shed," Karkar told the AP.
Watching his speech in a coffee shop in Cairo, however, Sabry Ahmed, in his late 50s, said Sisi has what Egypt needed.