March 30, 2014
Egypt's top strongman has confirmed widespread speculation in announcing his intention to run for the presidency.
Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, who recently resigned as the country's military chief and defense minister after presiding over the ouster and arrest of Mohamed Morsi, made the official announcement in Cairo. He had earlier turned up in street clothes to the government's weekly Cabinet meeting, where he handed in his resignation.
Sisi had earlier announced a housing initiative earmarks $40 billion for the construction of the homes, to be built by a large business from the United Arab Emirates. At a ceremony announcing the housing plan, the government also announced a vow from the UAE to forward to Egypt three months' worth of oil products.
A presidential election is expected to take place in the next few weeks. Sisi will face at least one other candidate, Hamdeen Sabahi, who finished third in the voting in 2012, behind Morsi and Ahmed Shafiq. Interim President Adly Mansour has publicly declined to run.
Sisi supporters gathered in Cairo and Alexandria. Supports of Morsi gathered in those two cities as well. Some clashes were reported, and a few people were injured.
General Sedki Sobhi, chief of staff of the army, was named defense minister. Lt. Gen. Mahmoud Hegazy succeeded Sobhi as chief of staff.
The winner of the presidential election will face a series of challenges, in politics and economics and in society. The country is still deeply divided along political lines, as the military and old guard increasingly struggle with Islamists and younger Egyptians for supremacy in government and the legal arena. The country has yet to regain the economic success it had seen before the revolution that ousted former President Hosni Mubarak. And the new president's first task will be to preside over new elections for parliament and, following that, a steep challenge to get all of Egypt to accept the country's new constitution.