Egypt’s Sisi ditches uniform, quits as defence minister

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AFP
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Field Marshal Abdel Fattah Al Sisi ditched his military fatigues on Thursday and resigned as Egypt's defence minister, a day after announcing he would stand for president. 

Cairo.- Field Marshal Abdel Fattah Al Sisi ditched his military fatigues on Thursday and resigned as Egypt's defence minister, a day after announcing he would stand for president. 

Sisi turned up in civilian clothes at the weekly cabinet meeting to submit his resignation after quitting as army chief the previous night, state news agency MENA reported. 

Meanwhile, General Sedki Sobhi was sworn in as the new defence minister and army chief, and Lieutenant General Mahmoud Hegazy replaced Sobhi as army chief of staff, the presidency said. Hegazy is the father-in-law of Sisi's son. 

Declaring his widely anticipated candidacy in a televised address on Wednesday, Sisi vowed to fight "terrorism" and work towards restoring Egypt's battered economy. 

The wildly popular Sisi faces no serious competition in the election to be held before June and is widely seen as the only leader able to restore order after more than three years of turmoil since the Arab Spring overthrow of veteran strongman Hosni Mubarak. 

"With all modesty, I nominate myself for the presidency of Egypt," Sisi said in Wednesday's address, wearing his field marshal's uniform. 

He vowed to fight militancy, which has killed more than 200 policemen and troops since the military ousted elected president Mohammed Morsi last July. 

The media hailed his speech, splashing it across their front pages. 

"Finally, Sisi officially announces candidacy for president," said independent daily Al-Masry Al-Youm, while state-run Al-Akhbar said: "Sisi starts his walk to presidential palace." 

The announcement was also welcomed on the street, with people saying Sisi becoming president was inevitable. 

"Sisi is too powerful. If he had remained as defence minister, he would have become a headache for any president. Therefore there is no alternative to him" but to become president, said tour operator Ali Amin. 

Sisi's candidacy is likely to further inflame protests and worry secular activists who fear a return to rule by the military and the strong-arm tactics of the Mubarak era. 

Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood rejected Sisi's candidacy outright. 

"He led a coup to become president. He is a man who has killed daily since the coup," Ibrahim Munir of the Brotherhood's political bureau said by telephone from London. 

Hours before Sisi's television address, clashes between Morsi's student supporters and police killed one protester at a Cairo campus. AFP

 

 

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