CAIRO: After months of turmoil in Egypt, military officers are pushing popular army chief Abdel Fattah Al Sisi to run for president, after the 2011 uprising had inspired hopes for democratic change in a country long dominated by generals. Sisi ousted Egypt’s first freely-elected president, Mohamed Mursi, the man who appointed him, in July after mass protests against the Islamist leader’s rule.
Since then Egypt, whose political transition has repeatedly stumbled, has been rocked by near-daily protests, bombings and clashes in which hundreds have died in the worst civil violence in the nation’s modern history. A military man back in power would alarm international human rights groups and Western allies such as the United States, and raise the prospect of more violence by Sisi’s foes.
Yet senior military officers have over the past three months told Sisi of their fears about the political upheaval in a series of meetings, army sources said.
“We told him that we need to maintain stability. He is needed for Egypt and the people love him and want him. Besides, who else can run but him? There is no one else as popular as him,” said one army officer, who asked not to be named.
President Hosni Mubarak, a former airforce commander, often cited “stability” as a concern as he crushed dissent for 30 years until his fall. He threw opponents in jail, including members of the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists.
Sisi has emerged as a popular figure. Posters of him with past Egyptian military heroes who became presidents are ubiquitous. Chocolate bars moulded to his likeness and jewelry carrying his image are sold on the streets. Many Egyptians believe Sisi would win if he ran for the presidency.Reuters