Sisi sheds uniform, to run for president

March 27, 2014 - 5:27:26 am

CAIRO: Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, the Egyptian general who ousted his country’s first freely-elected leader, declared his candidacy yesterday for a presidential election he is expected to win easily.

Sisi, who toppled the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Mursi last July after mass protests against his rule, vowed to fight what he called the terrorist threat facing Egypt, a reference to attacks that have spiralled since last summer.

“True, today is my last day in military uniform, but I will continue to fight every day for an Egypt free of fear and terrorism,” said Sisi, still wearing his military fatigues, in a televised speech.

Sisi had to resign his posts of army chief and minister of defence so he could contest the election. Seeking to cap some of the sky-high expectations, Sisi warned he could not perform “miracles” in a country of 85 million that is steeped in poverty.

“I cannot make miracles. Rather, I propose hard work and self-denial,” he said. “We must be truthful with ourselves: our country faces great challenges. Our economy is weak. There are millions of youths who suffer from unemployment in Egypt. This is unacceptable.”

If Sisi is elected, as widely expected, it would mark a return to the days when Egypt was led by men from the military — a pattern interrupted by Mursi’s one year in office after he won the first democratic presidential election. Sisi would assume leadership of a country reeling from three years of political turmoil. Since Mursi’s removal from power, Egypt has suffered the worst internal strife in its modern history.