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Egypt: Moussa says Sisi to announce presidential bid soon - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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In this July 22, 2013 file photo released by the Egyptian Presidency, Egypt's interim President Adly Mansour, front left, Defense Minister Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, front right, and other military officers listen to the national anthem during a medal ceremony at a military base in eastern Cairo. (AP Photo/Sheriff Abd El Minoem, Egyptian Presidency/File)

Egypt’s interim President Adly Mansour, front left, Defense Minister Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, front right, listen to the national anthem during a medal ceremony at a military base in eastern Cairo on July 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Sheriff Abd El Minoem, Egyptian Presidency/File)

Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—Popular Egyptian Defense Minister Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi will announce his intentions to run for the presidency in the near future, according to veteran Egyptian politician Amr Moussa.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, Amr Moussa said: “I met with Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi on Tuesday morning at the Defense Ministry headquarters . . . and I left the meeting convinced that he will stand at the forthcoming presidential elections and that his announcement of this is only a matter of time.”

Moussa said he believed the popular Egyptian army chief would announce his decision at the end of February or beginning of March. Moussa, who has previously served as Egypt Defense Minister and as Arab League Secretary-General, also confirmed he will not seek to run in the forthcoming presidential elections. His confirmation came as moderate Islamist Abdel-Moneim Aboul-Fotouh, another former presidential candidate, also announced this week that he would not seek to run for the presidency.

In comments to Asharq Al-Awsat, Egyptian presidential adviser Ali Awad revealed that the country’s prospective “presidential election legislation” would include new conditions for presidential candidates. He said candidates would need to prove their physical and mental competencies, in addition to possessing a university degree. Awad announced that interim president Adly Mansour would sign the new draft legislation into law within the next few days, opening the way for official preparations for the elections to get under way.

Awad confirmed that the new prospective law changes the mechanism through which candidates can officially register their to run for the presidency, and added that the only way candidates could now secure nomination was by collecting a 25,000-signature petition supporting their bid. The draft law also allows prospective candidates to obtain a recommendation of their bid from parliament, but given that Egypt has no parliament at the present time, the sole means of registering candidacy is through gathering a petition of support.

Retired Egyptian army general Sameh El-Yazal claimed that Sisi intended to announce his presidential candidacy on March 1. He told Asharq Al-Awsat: “Let us say that this is the most likely date for the announcement.” Yazal said Sisi would make this announcement himself in an official speech, eschewing the involvement of any third party between himself and the Egyptian electorate.

No date has been set to officially start the presidential candidate registration period, but the elections are expected to take place sometime in the spring. Popular Current party leader Hamdeen Sabahy is the only Egyptian politician so far to officially announce his intention to stand for the elections.

Speculation of a Sisi presidential bid continued to rise in Egypt after the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces—the highest military body in Egypt—appeared to endorse a Sisi presidency, describing the army chief’s expected presidential bid as “a mandate and an obligation.” In a broad-ranging interview with Kuwait’s Al-Seyassah newspaper, Sisi was quoted as saying he intended to meet the popular demands for a presidential bid.

“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.

However, an Egyptian military spokesman later denied the comments, claiming that what was published in Al-Seyassah was “merely journalistic speculation and not a direct statement from Field Marshal Sisi.” The spokesman added that if Sisi were to announce his presidential candidacy he would do this directly “before the great Egyptian people . . . in clear, direct words that will not be open to doubt or interpretation.”

On Wednesday, Sisi headed to Moscow where he is scheduled to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to the state-owned MENA news agency.

Additional reporting by Mohamed Shaaban and Abdul Sattar Hatita