News / Middle East

Egypt Military Officers Back Army Chief for President

FILE - An image grab taken from Egyptian state TV shows Egypt's army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi giving a live broadcast calling for public rallies this week to give him a mandate to fight "terrorism and violence," as Mohamed Morsi's supporters con
FILE - An image grab taken from Egyptian state TV shows Egypt's army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi giving a live broadcast calling for public rallies this week to give him a mandate to fight "terrorism and violence," as Mohamed Morsi's supporters con
Reuters
— After months of turmoil in Egypt, military officers are pushing popular army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sissi  to run for president, after the 2011 uprising had inspired hopes for democratic change in a country long dominated by generals.
 
Sissi ousted Egypt's first freely-elected president, Mohamed Morsi, the man who appointed him, in July after mass protests against the Islamist leader's rule.
 
Since then Egypt, whose political transition has repeatedly stumbled, has been rocked by near-daily protests, bombings and clashes in which hundreds have died in the worst civil violence in the nation's modern history.
 
A military man back in power would alarm international human rights groups and Western allies such as the United States, and raise the prospect of more violence by Sissi's foes.
 
Yet senior military officers have over the past three months told Sissi of their fears about the political upheaval in a series of meetings, army sources said.
 
“We told him that we need to maintain stability. He is needed for Egypt and the people love him and want him. Besides, who else can run but him? There is no one else as popular as him,” said one army officer, who asked not to be named.
 
President Hosni Mubarak, a former airforce commander, often cited “stability” as a concern as he crushed dissent for 30 years until his fall. He threw opponents in jail, including members of the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists.
 
The anti-Mubarak revolt, led by liberal activists joined by Islamists, had raised hopes of civilian democracy after six decades of rule by military men. But the army, which installed a government after Morsi's fall, is running the show again.
 
Since the military takeover, human rights groups have accused security forces of widespread abuses. Hundreds of Islamists have been killed in protests and clashes and thousands jailed, including Morsi and other Brotherhood leaders.
 
But the measures have failed to end unrest, and attacks by Islamist militants in the Sinai Peninsula near Israel have risen sharply since Morsi's demise. The turmoil has hammered tourism and investment in the most populous Arab state.

Sissi mania

Yet Sissi has emerged as a popular figure. Posters of him with past Egyptian military heroes who became presidents are ubiquitous. Chocolate bars molded to his likeness and jewelry carrying his image are sold on the streets.
 
Many Egyptians believe Sissi would win if he ran for the presidency.
 
An army major said he and many of his colleagues back Sissi.
 
“We disagree in politics all the time. We had different views under Mubarak and under Morsi but now we are unified on Sissi,” he said.
 
In media interviews, Sissi has sent mixed signals on whether he would run, first saying he does not seek power, and more recently keeping the possibility open.
 
Several military officers interviewed by Reuters noted that Sissi has become more receptive to the idea over the past month.
 
“Before he used to say 'No way'. Now he says 'Let's wait and see...If that's what the country needs and the people want, we can't let them down',” another senior officer said.
 
“Until now he has not given a direct answer about whether he would run but we can tell he is listening to us and not dismissing the idea.”
 
Promises of democracy
 
Sissi appeared on national television the night he toppled Morsi on July 3 and announced a political roadmap designed to bring elections by early next year.
 
The interim government chose a 50-member committee to re-write a constitution that was passed by a referendum last year.
 
The army, which has a representative on the committee, has pressed for special privileges for the armed forces, such as the power to choose the defense minister, committee members say.
 
Sissi, the former head of Mubarak's military intelligence, has said he would stay out of the state's affairs. But he regularly meets with leading Egyptian and Arab officials.
 
“I'm worried about a possible army return to power given the signs I'm seeing on the streets. The army will either run (a candidate) directly or back a candidate,” said human rights activist Gamal Eid, describing Sissi as a “real politician”.
 
When Egypt celebrated the October 6 war anniversary, it was Sissi, not the interim president, who addressed Egyptians. In an impassioned speech he promised to make Egypt a world leader, during a ceremony reminiscent of those held in the Mubarak era.
 
“Don't you think that will happen? It will. But that needs patience and loyal work,” said Sissi, seen weeping as he listened to patriotic songs.
 
Although Egyptians elected Morsi, many became disillusioned with the Muslim Brotherhood during his one-year rule. Morsi was accused of seeking sweeping powers, sidelining opponents and mismanaging the economy, allegations his Brotherhood denies.
 
Many people see the military as the only option. Liberals and leftists are deeply divided and weak and have failed to establish an effective grassroots presence. Some have even said they would endorse Sissi as president.
 
A youth and liberal activists campaign called “Complete Your Favor” said it had collected 15 million signatures for petitions urging Sissi to run for president.
 
Saad Eddin Ibrahim, a prominent activist who spent several years in jail under Mubarak, endorsed the campaign and described Sissi as Egypt's “savior from darkness”.
 
Although the number of signatures could not be verified, Sissi's popularity is palpable on the streets.
 
“I love Sissi, he is my president whether he runs or not. He is young, tough and also religious. He is like all Egyptians in one,” said Mona Ahmed, a 63-year-old housewife.
 
Sissi, 58, is often compared to army officer-turned- president Gamal Abdel Nasser, a popular nationalist who toppled the British-backed monarchy in 1952.
 
“The army does not want power and neither does General Sissi, but for the sake of Egypt, its national security and stability at this critical stage, compromises need to be taken and tough decisions need to be made,” another army officer said.
 
“If the people want that and there is no other option but for General Sissi to run, then he should do it.”

You May Like

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
October 26, 2013 10:02 AM
all "arab" countries are going to waste another 100 years oppressing their own "peoples" and completely destroying whatever they accomplished the previous 1000 years. Iraq, Libya, Syria,Egypt,and on and on.


by: lominyo jeremiah from: Juba/south Sudan
October 24, 2013 3:12 AM
I support the idea.Sissi dont allow the muslim brotherhood to rule Egypt because they are terrorists who have does not value the life of human beings especially they are the enemies of cheistians ones they succed to rule Egypt they will kill all your own brothers christian faith. Brother Sissi you will go un opposed to be the next president of Egypt.


by: Hassan from: Suez
October 23, 2013 6:36 PM
Very funny. A dictator ship with an "elected" General. Why you could not get beyond to make clear that it is about money and power. The army controls most businesses and they do not want the ordinary people to disturb their business. Thyts why they toppled the elected government und killed thousands of their fellow country men. They know that they will be punished soon.

In Response

by: Tay from: Alex
October 23, 2013 9:05 PM
Those who kill & murder the people are the Moslem brotherhood . They make explosions and fires everyday. They throw people from roofs. They are criminals. They are terrorists. El- Kaedda and all the terror organizations came out of those Moslem brotherhood .
Our only hope for stability is the Sisi. He is our HERO and our hope.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelteri
X
Scott Bobb
July 30, 2014 8:16 PM
Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video A Summer Camp for All the World

VIDEO: During workshops and social gatherings, the Global Youth Village summer camp encourages young people to cooperate and embrace their differences, while learning to communicate with people from other countries. VOA's Deborah Block has more.
Video

Video From Cantankerous Warlock to Incorruptible Priest, 'Harry Potter' Actor Embraces Diverse Roles

He’s perhaps best known as Mad Eye Moody, the whimsical wizard in the Harry Potter franchise. But character actor Brendan Gleeson's resume includes dozens of films, and he embraces all the characters he inhabits with equal passion. In an interview with VOA’s Penelope Poulou, Gleeson discussed his new drama "Calvary" and his secret to success.

AppleAndroid