|People walk past a banner for Egypt's Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in downtown Cairo. |
Photograph: Mohamed Abd El Ghany/REUTERS
Coming Soon - A Russian Base in Egypt
Our boy Vladimir Putin is on the move again backing the
Egyptian military against Islamist terrorism.
Egypt's army chief Abdel Fatah al-Sisi resigned from the military on Wednesday night, paving the way for a long-awaited presidential campaign and a return to strongman leadership for Egypt.
"I am here before you humbly stating my intention to run for the presidency of the Arab Republic of Egypt," Sisi said in a televised statement, still dressed in military fatigues. "Only your support will grant me this great honor."
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But while his candidacy has been an open secret for months, Sisi himself had given few definitive signals of his intentions reports The Guardian.
That finally changed on Wednesday night – three years and two months after the fall of Egypt's last ex-military strongman, Hosni Mubarak – as Egypt's military council, known as Scaf, convened to allow Sisi to resign. Minutes afterwards, shortly before 9:30pm local time, state television broadcast a 13-minute statement recorded earlier in the afternoon.
"If I am granted the honor of the leadership," Sisi said, "I promise that we together – leadership and people – can achieve stability, safety and hope for Egypt."
In speech that contained few surprises, the outgoing field marshal warned Egyptians that the country faced a host of economic and political challenges, and asked them for their patience and help in rebuilding the state. He focused on strengthening state institutions and increasing stability – mentioning democracy just once, and with no mention of human rights.
Sisi is widely expected to win any presidential election by a landslide, as many see him as the only candidate with the authority to control a country wracked by three years of post-revolutionary turmoil. He has a large and often sycophantic following, ranging from wealthy businessmen – who have paid for his face to be displayed on vast hoardings across Cairo – to working-class shopkeepers, who place his photograph in shop windows.
To many, Sisi represents a bulwark against Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, who are instinctively blamed for any outburst of violence.
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