The army chief in Egypt who ousted President Mohammed Morsi last July has given a clear indication that he would run for Egyptian president. Abdel Fatah al-Sisi said on Saturday he would view a yes vote in the constitutional referendum this week as a mandate for him to run for the presidency.
He said if he were to run for the office it would have to be requested by the people and with a mandate from his army. He said when his fellow Egyptians say something he must obey and he would never turn his back on his country.
The comments from Sisi came just days prior to the referendum on the new constitution that officials along with the local media have portrayed for the most part as an informal example of what direction the country is taking since the overthrow of Morsi.
The timing of the comments by Sisi suggests he would be given strong support for the new constitution. For a number of months, Sisi would not deny nor confirm he would seek the Egyptian presidency.
The uncertain intentions on his part made it difficult for others to opening declare their presidential ambitions. Few possible candidates are willing to declare open opposition to a man many have praised for his overthrowing of Morsi and who is expected to easily win any election he were to enter.
One former general in Egypt said that if Sisi were to run he likely would be voted in after just one round. Sisi has great popularity and people believe he can unite the country during a tough period that is upcoming.
Across large portions of Egypt, it is clearly visible how much support Sisi has. Banners and posters of him adorn many of the streets in Egypt and supporters of his claim they have millions of signatures requesting he run.
Many of those that protested against Hosni Mubarak back in the start of the Arab Spring in 2011 might now consider a strongman for president as a good step, as they have become exhausted from over three years of turmoil following Mubarak’s fall.