Middle East

Egypt army denies Sisi presidential candidacy report

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Media captionPosters of Field Marshal Abdul Fattah al-Sisi are a common sight in Cairo

Egypt's military has denied that its commander-in-chief, Field Marshal Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, told a Kuwaiti newspaper he would run for president.

Spokesman Col Ahmed Ali said the report published by al-Siyasah on Wednesday evening was not accurate and had been a misinterpretation of his words.

The newspaper quoted him as saying he could "not reject the demand" of the people that he should stand.

The field marshal led the overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi in July.

According to the new constitution, an election must take place by mid-April. Correspondents say Field Marshal Sisi would be likely to win, given his popularity and the lack of any serious rivals.

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

Following demonstrations at which tens of thousands of people urged him to stand, it said the "choice of the people" had to be heeded.

'Journalistic presumptions'

Correspondents say it therefore came as no surprise when al-Siyasah quoted Field Marshal Sisi as saying he had no alternative but to accept the wishes of the people and would "present this" to them.

However, on Thursday the official Facebook page of the military's spokesman carried a statement saying: "What was published by the Kuwaiti al-Siyasah newspaper are mere journalistic presumptions rather than direct statements made by Field Marshal Sisi.

"It carried inaccurate expressions and phrases especially after they were circulated in the different media outlets."

The statement added that the field marshal's "decision to run for president is a personal one that he will announce by himself to the great Egyptian people and no-one else. It will be done via clear and direct statements that cannot be doubted or misinterpreted".

The 59-year-old former military intelligence chief was appointed head of the armed forces and defence minister by Mr Morsi in August 2012.

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Image caption Mohammed Morsi and many other senior Muslim Brotherhood leaders are being tried on a variety of charges

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.

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.