Egypt's military council has given the army chief, Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a green light to run for president, a security source told Reuters.
"The top army officials all okayed Sisi running for the presidency," said the source. Sisi is expected to announce his candidacy within days.
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Sisi deposed Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in July, triggering political upheaval and street violence in the Arab world's most populous nation.
Since then he has become hugely popular among Egyptians, who see him as a decisive figure who can stabilize the country which has lurched from one crisis to another since a popular uprising toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
Hours before the 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 defense minister and from the military.