Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, who shepherded Mohamed Morsi out of office at the climax anti-Muslim Brotherhood protests on July 3, is running for president of Egypt.
El-Sisi resigned from his position as leader of the military today in preparation for the campaign to begin March 30, Al-Ahram reported.
“Today is the last time you’ll see me wearing this uniform. I was honored to wear it to defend the nation and today I am also leaving it behind to defend the nation,” said the 45-year military veteran. “…My determination to run in the election does not bar others from their right to run. I will be happy if whoever the people choose succeeds.”
The only declared challenger to El-Sisi is Nasserist politician Hamdeen Sabbahi, who came in third when Morsi won in 2012. “I welcome El-Sisi’s candidacy. We look forward to democratic, fair and transparent elections that guarantee the impartiality of the state and the people’s right to choose a president with their free will,” Sabbahi tweeted.
El-Sisi’s off to a good start with 51 percent saying they would vote for him and 45 percent undecided. More than 82 percent said they planned to show up to the polls, compared to the 52 percent voter turnout that saw Morsi elected.
After a death sentence was handed down for 529 Muslim Brotherhood supporters in the murder of a police commander, Egypt is now trying Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie and 682 of his supporters on various charges including murder.
Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement yesterday that he was “deeply, deeply troubled by the sudden and unprecedented decision” saying the verdict “does not reflect the values and goals to which the interim government has aspired publicly and privately.”
“The need for due process assumed greater urgency with the start of a new trial for nearly 700 more people in the same courtroom where the earlier judgment was rendered after a two-day summary proceeding in which the defendants were tried as a group rather than on the merits of individual cases. Many of those defendants were not even in the courtroom. It is impossible to believe that such a proceeding satisfied even the most basic standards of justice,” Kerry continued.
“The interim government must understand the negative message that this decision, if upheld, would send to the world about Egypt’s commitment to international law and inclusivity.”
The Obama administration has been pressing for Muslim Brotherhood inclusivity ever since Morsi’s ouster, and the Egyptian government has responded by cracking down on the group.
“For three years, Egyptians have demanded responsive leadership that protects human rights and promotes economic opportunity. Many lost their lives in that struggle. Adhering to the new constitution and maintaining a criminal justice system free of intimidation and political retribution are essential functions of a legitimate government,” Kerry said. “I urge the interim Egyptian government to reverse the court ruling and ensure due process for the accused. Anything less would dishonor the bravery of all who sacrificed their lives for democratic values.”