Egypt’s PM backs Sisi for president

Hazem el-Beblawi’s declaration of support for army chief’s presidential bid marks one of the highest-level endorsements to date

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Egypt’s interim Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi announced on Thursday his support for the country’s Army Chief Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to run for president, Reuters reported.

Sisi, who ousted Islamist President Mohammad Mursi in July after mass protests against his year-long rule, has not yet announced his candidacy for the presidential elections, which could happen as soon as March.

“Sisi has a very strong popular support and definitely is a candidate who we can count on but of course the final judge is the people,” Beblawi told Reuters during the World Economic Forum in Davos.


Beblawi’s statement is one of the highest-level endorsements for a widely expected presidential bid by the army chief.

Sisi enjoys broad support among those Egyptians who protested against Mursi. He is seen by many supporters as the only real contender for presidency.

While his supporters portray him as a national hero for ousting Mursi, the Islamist opposition depicts him as the mastermind of a bloody uprising against Egypt’s first freely elected president.

The army-backed government is pressing ahead with a political transition plan designed to lead to presidential and parliamentary elections later this year.

Last week, a new constitution was approved by more than 98 percent of voters.

Many of those Egyptians who were happy to see an end to Mursi’s rule believe a firm hand is needed to end the crisis in the country, and are calling for Sisi to run for president.

However, the head of the constitution-drafting committee told the Asharq al-Awsat newspaper in an interview published in mid-January that Egypt’s next president “must be a civilian.”

If Sisi runs for the presidency, he “must abandon his post,” Amr Moussa said.

“What we need is for people to be reassured by a patriotic man whom they want, and who leads the country to what’s better,” said Moussa, a former presidential candidate and former Arab League chief.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International said Thursday that Egypt has witnessed an “unprecedented scale” of violence that killed about 1,400 people since Mursi’s ouster in July.

The report comes amid preparations to mark the third anniversary of the revolution that toppled President Hosni Mubarak.

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