After week of press leaks, rumors and press speculation, Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Field Marshal Abdul Fattah El Sisi, Egypt’s army chief that supported an army-backed popular uprising against former Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, officially announced his candidacy to run for the presidency in a free and democratic election in an interview with the editor-in-chief of Kuwait’s El Seyassah newspaper. The much anticipated announcement was a formality following the decision late last month by the Supreme Council of the Armed Force, the highest military authority in Egypt, to allow the general to be discharged from the army should he feel the desire to respond to 'popular calls' to lead the country.
In the interview, El Sisi left little doubt that he has a well defined role to play in setting Egypt’s economic development agenda. On the one hand, he invited all Egyptians to join him in embracing the hard work that lies ahead to fulfill their high expectations. On the other hand, he stated that the role of the president is marketing the highly profitable economic opportunities available in Egypt. Moreover, he promised to directly engage with domestic, Arab and international investors to attract investment in industry, agriculture, tourism or foreign trade. He also took upon himself to create an investor friendly legal framework as well as amending existing legislation to facilitate investments. Investors reacted to El Sisi’s presidential candidacy by sending the leading EGX30 stock index 1.1% higher.
Field Marshal El Sisi is a controversial character in Egypt vilified by Islamists for the harsh security crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood and its militant offshoots following the ouster of the former president and simultaneously lionized by large swaths of the population for saving the country from the chaotic rule of Mohamed Morsi and his fellow Muslim Brothers. Presidential elections are to be held within 90 days of the approval of the constitution on January 18.
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