Egyptian Defense Minister and army commander Abdel Fattah al-Sissi announced in a televised address Wednesday night that he was resigning his defense posts to run for president in an election expected to take place next month. The announcement ended weeks of speculation that he was planning to run.
Field Marshal Sissi said he was resigning as defense minister and running for president in an announcement on state TV, after a meeting of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces that included interim President Adly Mansour.
He says that he is appearing for the last time in a military uniform, but will continue to defend it in a new role. He said no one can be president against the will of the people and without its support, unlike times of old.
The announcement came as little surprise after weeks of speculation and rumor that General Sissi was going to run. In his address, he appealed to the Egyptian people to support him in his bid for president.
He says that he is presenting his candidacy for president in all humility and asking for the honor of the people's support. He says that he will level with people about the state of affairs as he always has.
The general said Egyptians have the right to “live in dignity and in freedom,” but that everyone must “work and produce” to "give Egypt its rightful place among civilized nations.” He also said “Egypt is for all its citizens and must exclude no one.”
The announcement came against a backdrop of sporadic clashes between police and student supporters of the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood at Cairo University and several other spots in Cairo. Police fired teargas by mid-afternoon, and several casualties were reported.
Supporters of Gen. Sissi rallied in several other locations of the capital, as fireworks went off in anticipation of the presidential announcement.
Egypt's council of ministers is due to meet Thursday morning to appoint a successor to Gen. Sissi as army chief and defense minister. Arab satellite channels reported that veteran General Sobhi Sudqi has been promoted by one rank and will succeed General Sissi.
Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb said his government would “remain impartial in the electoral process.” One other candidate, secular politician Hamdeen Sebahi, has said he is running.
The Muslim Brotherhood indicated on its website that General Sissi's candidacy is “clear proof that he plotted to overthrow elected President Mohamed Morsi.” Morsi was ousted last July after days of popular demonstrations against him.
Diaa Bekheet contributed to this report from Washington
A cloud of red smoke from flares fills the air as supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi chant slogans during a demonstration outside Cairo University in Giza, March 26, 2014.
Protesters chant slogans outside of Cairo University in Giza, March 26, 2014.
A protester fires a flare during clashes with security forces outside of Cairo University in Giza, March 26, 2014.
An Alexandria University student carries another student out of the school after she was injured during clashes between student protesters and the Egyptian security forces in Alexandria, March 26, 2014.