AFP – Egypt’s army said Thursday a Kuwaiti newspaper “misinterpreted” remarks by Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in which he said he would run for president, saying he would announce such a decision only to the Egyptian people.
Kuwait newspaper Al-Seyassah ran an interview with Sisi on Thursday in which he was quoted as saying he would run in the presidential election due to be held before mid-April.
“What was published by the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Seyassah is nothing but journalistic interpretations that are not direct declarations from Field Marshal Sisi,” army spokesman Colonel Ahmed Ali said in a statement.
Sisi’s “decision to run or not for the presidency is a personal decision that he will announce personally before … the Egyptian people and not anyone else, through clear and direct words” Ali added in his statement.
The Kuwaiti report came a week after the country’s top military body endorsed the candidacy of Sisi, who ousted democratically elected president Mohamed Morsi in July following massive protests against the Islamist leader.
“Yes, the matter has been decided and I have no choice but to respond to the call of the Egyptian people,” Sisi was quoted as saying to Kuwait’s Al-Seyassah newspaper when asked if he had decided to contest the presidency.
Sisi, wildly popular for overthrowing the Islamist Morsi, is expected to resign as army chief before he can officially become a candidate in the election scheduled to be held by mid-April.
Sisi, who is still defence minister and head of the powerful military council, warned there was no quick fix for Egypt’s woes and he would not try to delude Egyptians.
“We will not play with their dreams or tell them that we have a magical wand,” to resolve the country’s massive problems, he said.
The security situation in Egypt, he added however, was improving as “today is better than yesterday and tomorrow will be better”.
Should he be elected, he said, he would call for a pan-Arab alliance to fight against growing “terrorism” in the region.
“We will call for an Arab union based on mutual cooperation between countries suffering from terrorism so we can wage a common war against it,” Sisi said.
“I believe the Gulf Cooperation Council states and other countries will welcome the union the aim of which, as I said, will be to liquidate black terror.”
GCC states Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates have been the main financial backers of Egypt since Morsi was pushed aside.
Saudi Arabia had long seen Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood as a threat. It quickly pledged $5bn (3.7bn euros) in aid to the new government in Cairo, with Kuwait offering $4 billion and the UAE $4.9bn.
To his supporters, Sisi is the best option for ending three years of instability following the 2011 uprising that ended the presidency of Hosni Mubarak, another former military officer.
But the most populous Arab nation faces a daunting task as violence has gripped the country and has become bitterly polarised.
More than 1,000 people, mostly Islamists have been killed in street clashes, and thousands imprisoned, since Morsi’s overthrow.
And analysts warn that a jihadist group behind a wave of spectacular attacks poses a serious threat to Egypt’s stability.
In less than a fortnight, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis (Partisans of Jerusalem) claimed responsibility for a car bombing at police headquarters in Cairo, shooting down a military helicopter with a missile in Sinai, and assassinating a police general in broad daylight in the capital.
Sisi’s presidential bid is expected to draw opposition not only from most Islamists but also from some liberals.