CAIRO - Three years after the "Arab Spring" toppled Hosni Mubarak, a secretive general with a cult-like following is expected to announce his candidacy for the presidency of Egypt ahead of elections which he is expected to win easily.

Army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has come under pressure to run from members of the public who reject the Islamist government he toppled last year, and from the armed forces who want a president who can face down growing political violence.

He has calculated that he can win the votes of those who backed Mohamed Morsi for president in 2012 simply because he represented change from the era of former air force commander Mubarak, ousted in the revolutions that swept the Arab world.

But despite his present popularity, Sisi has no record as a democrat and has shown himself willing to use deadly force against those who disagree with him.

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