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Report fuels el-Sissi rumors

Egypt Army denies chief has decided to run for presidency

AFP-JIJI

Amid growing speculation that Egypt’s army chief, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, will seek the presidency in elections scheduled for mid-April, a Kuwaiti newspaper said in comments published Thursday that he has decided to run — a report later denied by the army as a “misinterpretation” of his remarks.

The army said he would announce such a decision only to the Egyptian people.

“What was published by the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Seyassah is nothing but journalistic interpretations that are not direct declarations from Field Marshal el-Sissi,” army spokesman Col. Ahmed Ali said in a statement.

El-Sissi’s “decision to run or not for the presidency is a personal decision that he will announce personally before . . . the Egyptian people and not anyone else, through clear and direct words” Ali added.

According to the remarks, el-Sissi responded in the affirmative when asked if he had decided to run.

“Yes, the matter has been decided and I have no choice but to respond to the call of the Egyptian people,” el-Sissi said in the published remarks.

“The call (of the people) has been heard everywhere and I will not reject it. I will seek a renewal of confidence of the people through free voting,” el-Sissi added in the interview.

El-Sissi has granted interviews to the newspaper in the past, in which he discussed his presidential ambitions.

The report comes a week after the country’s top military body endorsed el-Sissi’s candidacy for an election, which he is almost assured to win after ousting democratically elected President Mohammed Morsi in July.

The wildly popular el-Sissi is expected by many to resign as army chief prior to any official announcement of his candidacy in the upcoming election.

A victory for the 59-year-old el-Sissi, who will have to give up his military uniform in order to stand in the election, would continue a tradition of Egyptian presidents drawn from the armed forces since the overthrow of the monarchy in 1952.

He told the Kuwaiti newspaper that he would seek help from the people to “cure Egypt of its chronic illness which has deteriorated in recent years.”

An el-Sissi presidential bid would almost assuredly draw opposition not only from most Islamists but also from some liberals.