Egypt military chief Sisi given green light to run for president
Egypt's top military council has gavin army chief Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi a green light to seek election as president, a vote he is almost sure to win with Egyptians weary of turmoil unleashed by a pro-democracy uprising in 2011.
Sisi deposed elected Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in July after mass unrest over his increasingly arbitrary and erratic rule, kindling political chaos and security crackdowns on dissent in the Arab world's most populous nation.
He has since taken on almost cult-like popularity in Egypt with many seeing him as a decisive figure able to stabilise a country that has lurched from one economically ruinous crisis to another since the 2011 overthrow of autocrat Hosni Mubarak.
"(The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces) is looking forward with respect and reverence to the desire of the huge masses of the great Egyptian people in the nomination of...Abdel Fattah al-Sisi for the presidency of the republic, which it considers a mandate and an obligation," the military high command said in a statement.
"The top army officials all okayed Sisi running for the presidency," said a security source. The 59-year-old career officer is expected to announce his candidacy within days.
Hours before top generals approved Sisi contesting the election, the presidency announced he had been promoted to field marshal from general, in what security officials said was a sign he is about to declare his candidacy for the presidency.
"The decision was expected and it is the first step before the resignation of the general and his candidacy announcement, which is now expected very soon," said a security official.
In order for Sisi to contest the election, he has to resign from his post as defence minister and from the military.
After toppling Morsi, Sisi unveiled a political roadmap that promised free and fair elections in Egypt, which is of great strategic importance because of its 1979 peace treaty with Israel and control of the Suez Canal.
But despite his popularity, Sisi has no pedigree as a democrat and has shown himself willing to apply deadly force against those who disagree with him.