Egypt's top military commander Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said in comments published in Kuwait Thursday that he has decided to run in the presidential election scheduled for April, but the army denied the reports.
"Yes, the matter has been decided and I have no choice but to respond to the call of the Egyptian
people," Sisi told Kuwait's Al-Seyassah newspaper when asked if he has decided to run for presidency.
Kuwait's Al-Seyassah paper runs al-Sisi's announcement
"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," Sisi said in the interview.
The official spokesperson of the Egyptian army was quick to reject the claims, saying that the interview published in the paper was an analysis and not direct statements made by the general. According to spokesperson Ahmed Ali, if and when al-Sisi decides to run he will do so directly to the Egyptian people.
"What was published by the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Seyassah is nothing but journalistic interpretations that are not direct declarations from Field Marshal Sisi," army spokesperson Colonel Ahmed Ali said in a statement.
Al-Sisi, who recently received a green-light to run and was promoted to the rank of field marshal, said that "Egypt needs an effort from everyone to rejuvenate it, and everyone – both leadership and people – need to work for that goal. We have no magic wand, be we are hopeful."
Al-Sisi also noted that "Egypt is ailing, it is chronic and has been (getting worse) in recent years. The people know the responsibility is a bid one, and demands everyone's cooperation."
Regarding the security situation, he said "the situation is better than it was."
When pressed for more details, the al-Sisi said that "Egypt must rid itself of past heritage and take care of what it left behind," a reference to either ousted Muslim Brotherhood leader Morsi or autocrat Hossni Mubarak.
Egyptians protest in favor of al-Sisi (Photo: Reuters)
Sisi's announcement comes a week after the country's top military council decided that he must run for the presidency which he is assured to win after ousting the democratically elected leader in July.
Sisi, wildly popular for overthrowing Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, is now expected to resign as army chief before he officially becomes a candidate in the election scheduled to be held by mid-April.
The army's decision came after a weekend in which dozens were killed in street clashes between Morsi's supporters and police and militant attacks, underscoring the difficulties Sisi will face.
AFP contributed to this report