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Sisi does not rule out bid at Egyptian presidency.

Egypt's Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim (centre) joins policemen and relatives of officer Ahmed Samir at his funeral service at the Police Mosque in Cairo. By Tom Perry, Reuters/Cairo Egyptian army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who led the overthrow of President Mohamed Mursi, held open the possibility he might run for the presidency in an interview published yesterday. Sisi, 59, deposed the Islamist Mursi in July following mass protests against his rule. He has since emerged as a popular figure to many Egyptians and his supporters want him to run for president in an election expected next year. Al Seyassah Asked by the Kuwaiti newspaper whether he was a candidate for the presidency, Sisi said: "Would that satisfy all the people? Would that satisfy some of the foreign powers, and does this mean working to find solutions for Egypt's problems? In any case, let's see what the days bring." Though the election is expected in around six months' time, none of the politicians defeated by Mursi in last year's election have declared their candidacy this time around, as Sisi keeps the country guessing about his intentions. It is widely assumed Sisi would win an election, meaning the presidency would once again be controlled by the military establishment that dominated state affairs for decades after the army overthrew the monarchy in 1952. Sisi holds the position of deputy prime minister in the interim administration installed by the military after Mursi, Egypt's first civilian head of state, was ousted. Sisi also holds the post of defence minister. Sisi's public profile has grown since he ousted Mursi and he is lionised by state media. On Wednesday evening, he prayed over the coffins of 11 soldiers killed in a suicide bombing in the Sinai Peninsula, in a ceremony broadcast on state TV. While he is adored by Egyptians seeking a semblance of stability after three years of turmoil and happy to see the end of Mursi's rule, Sisi has been demonised by the Muslim Brotherhood. The Islamists accuse him of orchestrating a coup against a democratically elected leader and hold him responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Mursi's supporters killed in a crackdown by the security forces since his ouster. The interview showed how Sisi's influence over state affairs now goes well beyond the realm of defence. On foreign affairs, he said a shift in Egypt's alliances was "out of the question" in response to speculation that Cairo was distancing itself from the US after it suspended military aid. "It is unwise to have relations with this (state) or that, and to change your alliances because of certain positions. This is not the politics of states," he told the Kuwaiti newspaper. Egypt's ties with the US deteriorated after the army overthrew Mursi. Last month, Washington suspended some military aid to Cairo, pending progress on democracy. The US has supplied Egypt with billions of dollars in military and other aid since it signed a 1979 peace treaty with Israel. A visit by senior Russian officials to Cairo last week fuelled speculation that Egypt was looking for new allies. But in a further sign that the US wants to mend fences with Cairo, Secretary of State John Kerry said on Wednesday Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood had "stolen" the Egyptian revolution - a view in line with the Egyptian government's. That echoed comments last week by Egyptian Deputy Prime Minister Ziad Bah El-Din, who said there had been "a change of understanding" in Washington about events in Egypt. In apparent reference to Western governments, Sisi said: "Some of the states that supported the Brotherhood's rule and their authoritarian practices today realise that what happened on June 30 was not a military coup but a popular revolution." He was referring to the day when millions took to the streets to protest against Mursi, who appointed Sisi as head of the armed forces in August, 2012. Asked why Mursi had picked him, Sisi said: "It's God's will." Police officer killed in raid on Islamist militants in Nile delta town An Egyptian police officer was shot dead in a Nile Delta town yesterday while trying to arrest suspects wanted in connection with the killing of a security official, the Interior Ministry said. Captain Ahmed Samir came under fire during an early morning raid in the province of Qulubiya, the ministry said in a statement. The militants were suspected of involvement in the shooting in Cairo last Sunday of Interior Ministry Lieutenant Colonel Mohamed Mabruk. Mabruk's killing deepened concerns that Egypt, a US ally, could face an Islamist insurgency. Mabruk was part of an Interior Ministry unit that closely tracks the Muslim Brotherhood, which has won every national vote since a popular uprising toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011. The army ousted President Mohamed Mursi, a Brotherhood leader in July. Since then, attacks by Islamists based in the Sinai Peninsula near Israel have risen sharply. Islamist militants have also attacked police officials in Cairo and elsewhere. The cabinet said yesterday it would give full support to the security forces and would review decisions by Mursi to free jailed militants while he was in office. Al Ahram State-run newspaper quoted a forensics specialist as saying Samir had died from a bullet wound to his neck, and that he was shot at a range of no more than five metres. A Sinai-based militant group, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, has claimed responsibility for the killing of Mabruk, who security officials say had been due to testify in one of several legal cases against Mursi, who is on trial for inciting violence. The army-backed government does not distinguish between the Brotherhood and Al Qaeda-inspired militants in Sinai, who attack security forces almost daily. A suicide car bombing killed at least 10 Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai on Wednesday, one of the deadliest attacks there since militants stepped up violence after Mursi's overthrow. Militant violence, together with political tension between the Brotherhood and the government, is weighing on investment and tourism in Egypt, which has a peace treaty with Israel and controls the Suez Canal shipping route between Europe and Asia.

Gulf Times Newspaper 2013

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Publication:Gulf Times (Doha, Qatar)
Geographic Code:7EGYP
Date:Nov 22, 2013
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