Egypt’s military chief, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, plans to resign from his post in the coming days in order to run for president with the army’s backing.
Sisi came to the decision “in light of wide popular demands, in addition to signs of Arab approval, especially from the Gulf,” an informed source told the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper, in a report published on Tuesday.
The source also said that Sisi made his decision after carefully studying expected “Western reactions, especially American,” to his potential candidacy, and saw that the Pentagon welcomed the move.
The report speculated that the presidential election would be held in March.
The news comes amid preparations for celebrations on Saturday of the anniversary of the January 25, 2011, uprising that led to the overthrow of the regime of former president Hosni Mubarak. That event paved the way for Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood to win the presidency in democratic elections, but he lost it in a Sisi-led coup after just over a year in office.
Egyptian security forces are preparing a plan to prevent terrorist attacks during the anniversary celebrations.
Morsi’s supporters are planning protests against the government starting on Friday.
“The Interior Ministry has monitored calls by the Muslim Brotherhood to protest on January 25,” Interior Minister Muhammad Ibrahim said at a press conference on Monday, Aswat Masriya reported.
Also on Monday, the army arrested nine terrorist suspects during its operations in north Sinai, according to the Aswat Masriya website.
Separately, Egyptian security forces defused an improvised bomb filled with gas in Cairo on Tuesday, Ahram Online reported.
Last week, a bomb exploded near a Cairo courthouse just before polls opened for a referendum on a proposed constitution, which passed with close to 98 percent approval.
International reactions to the referendum were mostly positive, Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmi said on Tuesday, as quoted by Egypt’s State Information Service.
Hosni Mubarak’s lawyer, Fareed el-Deeb, said in a TV interview Monday night that neither the former president nor anyone in his family desired returning to political power, according to a report by Egyptian newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm.
Mubarak’s lawyer said before the referendum that the former president wanted to vote for it, demonstrating support for the new regime.