Egypt’s army yesterday said that a Kuwaiti newspaper “misinterpreted” comments by its chief, Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, that he would run for the presidency, saying he would make an announcement directly to the Egyptian people.
Field Marshal al-Sisi, bolstered by a surge in popularity after he overthrew former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi in July last year, is widely expected to contest and win an election due by mid-April
He has already received backing from the top military council, and his aides say privately he has made up his mind to stand for office.
The country came close to receiving confirmation when Kuwait’s al-Seyassah newspaper ran an interview with al-Sisi early yesterday in which he said he would put himself forward.
“Yes, the matter has been decided and I have no choice but to respond to the call of the Egyptian people,” the paper quoted him as saying.
“The call [of the people] has been heard everywhere and I will not reject it. I will seek a renewal of confidence of the people through free voting,” he said.
The military later said the newspaper had “misinterpreted” his remarks, without elaborating, adding that al-Sisi would formally make an announcement directly to the people.
“What was published ... is nothing but journalistic interpretations that are not direct declarations from Field Marshal Sisi,” army spokesman Colonel Ahmed Ali said in a statement.
Al-Sisi would need to resign as army chief, defense minister and deputy prime minister before nominating himself.
The choice of a Kuwaiti newspaper for a much-coveted interview of al-Sisi enraged some in the Egyptian media.
“If you decided to announce [your candidacy], Field Marshal, why didn’t you announce it to us,” television host Khairy Ramadan asked on the private Egyptian channel CBC.
“You have the Egyptian media; you have the Egyptian state television... Why a Gulf newspaper?” he asked.