Egypt military chief Sisi hints at presidential bid

Field Marshal Abdul Fattah al-Sisi in Moscow (13 February 2014) The field marshal is widely expected to become president of Egypt, the most populous Arab nation

Egypt's armed forces chief, Field Marshal Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, has said he cannot ignore calls by the majority for him to run for president.

He was quoted by the state news agency Mena as revealing that "official procedures" regarding his candidacy were expected in the coming days.

It is the clearest indication yet that he will stand in the election which is scheduled to take place by mid-April.

He led the overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi in July.

The field marshal has been widely expected to resign and declare a presidential bid since the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (Scaf) gave its public support at the end of January.

Correspondents say he would be likely to win, given his popularity and the lack of any serious rivals.

Rise through the ranks

  • Born in Cairo on 19 November 1954
  • Graduated from Egypt's Military Academy in 1977
  • Trained at the UK Joint Services Command and Staff College in 1992, and received a master's degree at the US Army War College in 2006
  • Early career spent in the army, rising to chief-of-staff of the 2nd Mechanised Infantry Division and then chief-of-staff of the Northern Military Zone
  • Appointed director in February 2011 and youngest member of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces after uprising topples Hosni Mubarak
  • Appointed commander-in-chief of the armed forces and defence minister in August 2012 by President Mohammed Morsi
  • Overthrows Mr Morsi, suspends the constitution and installs an interim government in July 2013 following mass opposition protests
  • Promoted to field marshal in January 2014
'Critical phase'

Field Marshal Sisi commented on his prospective candidacy in a speech at a graduation ceremony at the Egyptian Military Academy in Cairo.

He said he could "not turn his back on calls by the majority of Egyptians for him to run for president", Mena reported.

"Official measures should be taken in the coming days," he added.

The field marshal added that Egypt was "going through a critical phase that required unity among the people, army and police", arguing that "no party alone can help Egypt get up onto its feet in such conditions".

Officials close to the field marshal have told AFP news agency he will step down as commander-in-chief of the armed forces and defence minister after a law regulating the presidential election is approved by Interim President Adly Mansour this week or next.

The 59-year-old former military intelligence chief was appointed to the posts by Mr Morsi in August 2012.

But after mass protests demanding Mr Morsi's resignation took place on the first anniversary of his taking office, it was the field marshal who gave the president an ultimatum that he would have to satisfy the public's demands or see the army step in.

A supporter of Abdul Fattah al-Sisi kisses a photo of him at a demonstration outside the trial of ousted President Mohammed Morsi in Cairo (27 February 2014) Tens of thousands of people have attended demonstrations urging the field marshal to stand

When Mr Morsi refused, Field Marshal Sisi suspended the constitution and announced the formation of a technocratic interim government.

Since then, more than 1,000 people have been killed and thousands of members of Mr Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood have been detained in a crackdown by the interim authorities, who have designated the Islamist movement a terrorist group.

Mr Morsi and many other senior Brotherhood leaders are currently being tried on a variety of charges, including incitement to murder and conspiring to commit terrorist acts.

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