March 27, 2014
BBC News profiles the man some are calling Egypt’s president-in-waiting
Egypt’s new armed forces chief and defence minister has been sworn in, a day after Abdul Fattah al-Sisi resigned so he could stand for the presidency.
Interim President Adly Mansour confirmed Gen Sedki Sobhi’s appointment at the weekly cabinet meeting in Cairo.
Gen Mahmoud Hegazi, whose daughter is married to one of Mr Sisi’s sons, was named the army’s new chief-of-staff.
Mr Sisi, who held the rank of field marshal, reportedly turned up at the cabinet meeting in civilian clothes.
As commander-in-chief last July, he led the overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi following mass opposition protests.
The military-backed interim authorities subsequently launched a crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood that has left more than 1,000 people dead and seen some 16,000 others detained.
They have also struggled to combat jihadist militants based in the Sinai peninsula who have attacked government and security forces personnel, killing more than 200.
Mr Sisi attended Thursday’s cabinet meeting to submit his resignation as defence minister and see his former chief-of-staff sworn in as his successor, the Mena news agency reported.
Announcing his presidential bid on Wednesday, the 59 year old said he was answering “the demand of a wide range of Egyptians who have called on me to run for this honourable office”.
Mr Sisi promised he would soon offer “a clear platform for a modern and democratic Egypt”.
But he warned of an “extremely difficult task” ahead as the country faced up to its “economic, social, political and security realities”, including the threat of “terrorists”.
To his supporters, the former military chief is a strongman who can end the political turmoil that has dogged Egypt since 2011 when a popular uprising ended Hosni Mubarak’s three decades of one-man rule.
But Mr Sisi’s opponents hold him responsible for what human rights groups say are widespread abuses, including the torture of detainees, and fear that he wants a return to authoritarianism.
“He led a coup to become president. He is a man who has killed daily since the coup,” Ibrahim Munir, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political bureau, told the AFP news agency by telephone from London.
Before Mr Sisi announced his presidential bid, at least one student was killed and more than a dozen were injured in clashes with riot police at Cairo University, officials said.
On Thursday, further clashes were reported as Islamist students protested in an eastern district of the capital where the defence ministry building is located.
No date has been set for the presidential election, but Mr Mansour was recently quoted by the state-run newspaper al-Ahram as saying it would be over by mid-July, after which parliamentary polls would be held.
Correspondents say Mr Sisi is likely to win, given his popularity and the lack of any serious rivals.
Leftist politician Hamdeen Sabahi, who came third in the 2012 election, is the only other candidate to have declared his intention to run.