Egypt's Sisi poised to announce presidency bid
CAIRO: Three years after the "Arab Spring" toppled Hosni Mubarak, a secretive field marshal with a cult-like following is expected to announce his candidacy for the presidency of Egyptahead of elections which he is expected to win easily.
Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, 59, has been urged to run by members of the public who reject the Islamist government he toppled last year, and by members of the armed forces who want a president who can face down growing political violence.
On Monday, Egypt's top military council gave him the green light to seek the presidency, and the interim president Sisi installed six months ago promoted him to field marshal from general.
Sisi has calculated that he can win the support even of some of those who backed Mohamed Mursi for president in 2012, who sought change from the era of former air force commander Mubarak, ousted in the revolutions that swept the Arab world.
But despite his present popularity, Sisi has no record as a democrat and has shown himself willing to use deadly force against those who disagree with him.
Sisi has trodden a careful path to power since overthrowing Mursi, Egypt's first freely elected president, last July.
It's the kind of measured advance he has made all his life, from his childhood in the dirt lanes of Cairo's Gamaliya district, to the highest rank in one of the largest armies in the Middle East. On Monday, the presidency announced he was promoted to field marshal from general.
Friends and family speak of him of as a man of few words and decisive action.
"He loved to listen and carefully study what was said. After he heard many opinions then he would suddenly strike," said his cousin Fathi al-Sisi, who runs a shop selling handicrafts.
"Abdel Fattah had one thing in mind: work, the military, rising to the top."
The world knew little of Sisi before he appeared on television on July 3 and announced the removal of Mursi after mass protests against the Islamist leader.
It was Mursi who appointed Sisi army chief of staff and defense minister in August 2012, perhaps his gravest mistake.
Mursi, a Muslim Brotherhood leader, wanted a young general to reduce the influence of the military old guard who had served under the autocratic Mubarak before the 2011 revolution.
His reputation for being a pious Muslim may have also appealed to Mursi.
But while Mursi appeared deaf to criticism, Sisi was tuned in to the rising discontent on the streets over the Brotherhood's mismanagement. Eventually he issued an ultimatum to the man who appointed him: Bow to the demands of protesters within 48 hours or the military would act.