Egypt army chief Sisi may run for president

Cairo, Jan 11: Egypt’s army chief and Defence Minister Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi said Saturday that he would run for president “if the people demand it and the army gives him a mandate”, media reported.

During a symposium held by the armed forces, Sisi told attendees that “I cannot turn my back on Egypt”, according to the website of the official Al-Ahram news, Xinhua reported.

Sisi called on all Egyptians to take part in a referendum on the country’s new draft constitution slated for Jan 14-15, stressing that the charter represents “one-third of the future roadmap”.

He also noted that a low turnout in the upcoming constitution vote would “embarrass” him and the army.

The military, led by Sisi, ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in early July 2013 after mass protests against Morsi’s one-year rule and his Brotherhood group.

In mid-August 2013, security forces dispersed two major pro-Morsi sit-ins in Cairo and Giza, leaving about 1,000 people dead. Police also arrested thousands of Morsi’s supporters, including Brotherhood leaders.

Ever since, Morsi’s supporters have been holding protests against the current interim leadership, calling for Morsi’s reinstatement and urging for boycotting the upcoming constitution referendum.

After removing Morsi, Sisi repeatedly said that the military would not interfere in politics.

However, a number of popular campaigns have recently formed an alliance urging Sisi to run for president as a popular demand.