David D Kirkpatrick
The senior leaders of the Egyptian military have authorised General Abdul Fattah el-Sisi to run for president, state television reported Monday afternoon, making it nearly certain that he would seek the post.
General Sisi, the military officer who ousted Egypt’s first elected president last summer and who has been serving as defence minister, was also promoted on Monday to field marshal.
He is seen as all but certain to win the presidency. Nearly every other potential candidate has said he would not run for the office if General Sisi sought it. The government that he installed last summer has suppressed the largest opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood, and cracked down on other dissenters. A revised constitution that was presented as a referendum on General Sisi’s leadership was approved by more than 98 percent of the votes cast this month.
The general has ridden a wave of popularity that has given him the status of a national icon since he led the removal of President Mohammed Morsi, a Brotherhood leader who won election but failed to revive Egypt’s moribund economy, restore stability, or fully control the often free-wheeling and self-interested institutions of the country’s bureaucracy, especially the military and the police.
Gen. Sisi was appointed as defence minister by Morsi in the summer of 2012, and at the time he appeared determined to keep military out of politics. “With all respect for those who say to the army, ‘Go into the street’: If this happened, we won’t be able to speak of Egypt moving forward for 30 or 40 years,” General Sisi said in the spring of 2013. A few months later, though, he led the military to remove Morsi from office after a weekend of huge street protests.