Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, the Egyptian military chief who last summer removed the elected Islamist president, announced on Wednesday that he has resigned from the military and will run for president in elections scheduled for next month.
In a nationally televised speech, Al Sisi appeared in his military uniform, saying that it was the last time he would wear it because he was giving it up “to defend the nation” by running for president. He said he was “responding to a call from the people.”
Egyptian law says only civilians can run for president, so his resignation from the military, as well as his posts of military chief and defence minister, was a required step.
Al Sisi is widely expected to win the vote, after months of nationalist fervour since he removed Mohammed Mursi, who in 2012 became Egypt’s first freely elected and civilian president. The ouster in July came after massive protests demanding Mursi go after only a year in office amid public resentment that his Muslim Brotherhood was monopolising power.
Since then, the military-backed interim government has waged a fierce crackdown on Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood, arresting thousands of members and killing hundreds of protesters in clashes. At the same time, militants have waged a campaign of attacks on police and the military, and Al Sisi has repeatedly declared a war on terrorism.
In his address on Wednesday night, Al Sisi gave a campaign-style speech, promising he intended to build a “modern and democratic Egypt.” He spoke of the challenges facing the country, including millions of unemployed and a “weak economy.”
In an apparent goodwill gesture despite the crackdown, he promised “no exclusion. … I extend my hand to all at home and abroad — all those who have not been convicted.”
“There will be no personal score-settling,” he said…. see more