Sisi says the Muslim Brotherhood will not exist in his presidency
Presidential candidate Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said he had to enter the race due to ‘threats facing Egypt’
Egypt’s presidential hopeful and former Army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said on Monday that the Muslim Brotherhood - the group he removed from power last year - will not exist if he is elected president, in his first interview after he started campaigning.
Sisi also said violent extremists are affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood, making his comments the clearest indication yet there was no prospect for political reconciliation with the Islamist group that propelled Mohamed Mursi to the presidency in 2012.
He also said that he survived two assassination attempts in the joint interview with Egypt's privately-owned CBC and ONTV television channels. He said there were "two attempts to assassinate me. I believe in fate, I am not afraid."
He did not say when the assassination attempts took place.
Sisi is expected to easily win the May 26-27 presidential election. The only other candidate is leftist politician Hamdeen Sabahi, who came third in the 2012 election won by Mursi.
He said Egypt’s military stands on equal distance between him and his rival Sabbahi during the election, denying the description that he is the military candidate.
“I am not the military candidate for the Egyptian presidency,” Sisi said. He said if he is elected as president, the army “will not have a ruling role” in the country.
Since the army deposed Mursi last July, militants have killed several hundred members of the security forces in bombings and shootings. The interior minister survived an attempt on his life in September.
The army-backed authorities have outlawed Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood, and thousands of its supporters have been arrested and hundreds killed.
A court sentenced the leader of the Brotherhood and hundreds of supporters to death last week. Secular dissidents have also been jailed, leaving little organized opposition.
Sisi has said his campaign would be unconventional - an apparent reference to concerns for his security. So far, there are no announced plans for him to appear in public.
The former military chief said he decided to run in the country’s presidential election because of the “threats” facing the country.
He said his move to overthrow Mursi on July 3, 2013 “wasn’t a plan to take over power.”
Sisi said he didn’t discuss the July 3 plan with any domestic or foreign parties.
“I am an Egyptian Muslim, who loves his country,” he said about himself.
He also said that he had been raised in a tolerant atmosphere of mixed communities, including Jews and Christians. “I never asked people about their religious background,” he said.
Sisi is widely seen as the frontrunner in the May 26-27 presidential election.