General Sisi says he's not interested in power
Egyptian opponents of deposed president Mohamed Morsi walk towards Tahrir Square in Cairo wearing cardboard cut-out masks of army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (AFP/MOHAMED EL-SHAHED)
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Egypt’s army chief Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said that he did not “aspire for authority” when asked by theWashington Post if he planned to run for the presidency.
“You just can’t believe that there are people who don’t aspire for authority,” Sisi said in a rare interview. He was asked: “Is that you?,” and the army chief replied: “Yes.”
“I want to say that the most important achievement in my life is to overcome this circumstance, [to ensure] that we live peacefully, to go on with our road map and to be able to conduct the coming elections without shedding one drop of Egyptian blood.”
Islamist President Mohammad Mursi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president after 60 years of rule by military men, was overthrown by the army on July 3, sparking a political crisis that has killed scores over the past month.
Sisi lashed out at the United States, urging it to use its influence over the Muslim Brotherhood – from which Mursi hails.
The U.S. gives Cairo $1.5 billion per year in mostly military aid. According to U.S. law, the government must halt all non-humanitarian aid to any country whose democratically elected government is overthrown. Washington has asked Egyptian officials to show restraint in their dealings with pro-Mursi protesters but had not gone as far as to call the army’s ouster of the president a military coup.
However, the army chief said that Washington was ignoring the crisis in Egypt and that he has not spoken to U.S. President Barack Obama since Mursi’s ouster. But he said that Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel calls him “almost every day.”
“You left the Egyptians, you turned your back on the Egyptians and they won’t forget that. Now you want to continue turning your backs on Egyptians?” Sisi said in his first interview since Mursi’s ouster. “The U.S. administration has a lot [of] leverage and influence with the Muslim Brotherhood, and I’d really like the U.S. administration to use this leverage with them to resolve the conflict.”
Sisi’s interview follows U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s latest statements that Egypt’s army was “restoring democracy.”
“The military was asked to intervene by millions and millions of people,” Kerry said during a trip to Pakistan. “The military did not take over to the best of our judgment – so far.”
Sisi, who is believed to be the most powerful man in Egypt, commented on whether security forces would forcibly remove the Muslim Brotherhood’s protest camps, saying: "Whoever will clean these squares or resolve these sit-ins will not be the military. There is a civil police and they are assigned to these duties.”
The interim government has warned demonstrators to end their sit-in or face consequences.
“On the 26th of [July], more than 30 million people went out onto the streets to give me support. These people are waiting for me to do something.”
Clashes have erupted near two huge pro-Mursi sit-ins, and more than 250 people have killed since the Islamist leader was deposed, according to Reuters.
However, Sisi defended the army’s decision to oust Mursi and said: “I expected if we didn’t intervene, it would have turned into a civil war. Four months before he left, I told Mursi the same thing.”
“What I want you to know and I want the American reader also to know is that this is a free people who rebelled against an unjust political rule, and this free people needs your support.”
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