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Sources: Sisi to announce decision to run for Egypt presidency by mid-February - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Egypt's Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is seen during a news conference in Cairo on the release of seven members of the Egyptian security forces kidnapped by Islamist militants in Sinai, in this May 22, 2013 file picture. (Reuters)

Egypt’s Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is seen during a news conference in Cairo on the release of seven members of the Egyptian security forces kidnapped by Islamist militants in Sinai, in this May 22, 2013 file picture. (Reuters)

Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—Egyptian Defense Minister Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi will announce his decision on a prospective presidential bid before the middle of February, sources close to the army chief told Asharq Al-Awsat.

The latest clarification comes after questions were raised about a prospective Sisi presidential bid this week when Kuwait’s Al-Seyassah newspaper claimed Sisi had confirmed he intends to seek the presidency in forthcoming elections. But the Egyptian military moved quickly on Thursday to deny the Kuwaiti newspaper’s claims.

“What was published in Al-Seyassah is merely journalistic speculation and not a direct statement from Field Marshall Sisi,” said Egyptian military spokesman Ahmed Ali on Thursday. The military spokesman affirmed that Sisi’s decision “to put forward his candidacy or not is a personal decision he himself will take before the great Egyptian people . . . in clear, direct words that will not be open to doubt or interpretation.”

In a broad-ranging interview with Sisi in Al-Seyassah, the Kuwaiti newspaper quoted Sisi as saying that he intends to meet Egyptians’ popular demand for a Sisi presidency.

“The decision has been made, and I will not reject the people’s demand of running for the republic’s presidency. I will present this to the Egyptian people to renew confidence through free voting,” the newspaper quoted him as saying.

The interview comes just one week after Egypt’s top military body, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), endorsed a Sisi candidacy. SCAF announced that “the people’s trust in Sisi is a call that must be heeded as the free choice of the people,” promoting him to the rank of Field Marshal before his expected retirement from the military later this month. Sisi’s retirement would then serve as a springboard for a future presidential bid.

Presidential candidacy registration is expected to begin from February 18 after interim president Adly Mansour took the decision to bring presidential elections forward, altering the military-backed transitional roadmap that ousted Islamist President Mohamed Mursi in July 2013 and explicitly called for parliamentary elections to be held before presidential polls.

Prospective presidential candidates include former Egyptian Chief of Staff Sami Anan, Nasserite former presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi, and moderate Islamist former presidential candidate Abdel-Moneim Aboul Fotouh.