Las Vegas Sun

April 16, 2014

Currently: 64° — Complete forecast | Log in | Create an account

Egypt military denies report on chief’s candidacy

Updated Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014 | 7:31 a.m.

CAIRO (AP) — The Egyptian military on Thursday denied a report by a Kuwaiti daily claiming that its chief had made up his mind to run for president.

The military's spokesman said the nation's top soldier will, if he decides to run for president, announce his intention in an address to the "glorious people of Egypt" — and not through a third party.

The spokesman, Col. Ahmed Mohammed Ali, was responding to comments attributed by the Kuwaiti daily to Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi that he has decided to run for president.

Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi is widely expected to run for president, but he has yet to announce his candidacy. Speculations are rife in the country that he will do so in a televised address to the nation later this month.

The spokesman insisted that what Kuwait's al-Seyassah newspaper attributed to el-Sissi was the daily's own "interpretation" and not "direct comments" by the military chief. Ali's statement was posted on his official Facebook page.

El-Sissi, 59, led the popularly backed military coup in July that ousted Egypt's Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. El-Sissi's popularity has since soared, with many Egyptians now viewing him as a savior and demanding that he run for president. Presidential elections are expected in the spring, followed by parliamentary elections.

If el-Sissi runs, the career infantry officer is likely to win a landslide victory, but he will then face the unenviable task of finding remedies to a multitude of pressing problems, from a terrorist campaign by Islamic militants in the strategic Sinai Peninsula and tenuous security to a deepening economic crisis and persistent street protests by Morsi's supporters.

In a separate development, authorities on Thursday set Feb. 19 as the starting date for the trial of ousted President Hosni Mubarak and his two sons on charges that they had illegally seized 125 million pounds of state funds earmarked for the maintenance of presidential palaces.

Mubarak was ousted by a popular uprising in 2011. He was detained along with his sons — wealthy businessman Alaa and one-time heir apparent Gamal — in April that year. Mubarak and his security chief were convicted and sentenced to life in prison in June 2012 for the killing of protesters in the 2011 uprising that led to his ouster. Their conviction was overturned and they are now being tried again.

Alaa and Gamal Mubarak were acquitted of corruption charges in the same trial, but the prosecution successfully appealed the verdict and they are being retried in the same case as their father's.

The Mubarak sons have been in detention since April 2011. Their father was ordered released last year, but he has since been placed under "house arrest" in a Nile-side military hospital in a southern Cairo suburb.