Egypt's top military council mandated military chief Sisi on Monday to run for presidency, hours after promoting him to field marshal, the state news agency reported.
Sisi, who will resign from the army to stand for office, is tipped to easily win a presidential election due to be held by mid-April, with no serious rivals.
“The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces by consensus mandated the defense minister (Sisi) to stand in presidential elections,” the official MENA news agency reported.
Sisi, who led the July 3 ouster of Islamist President Mohammad Mursi, was promoted upon a decision made by interim President Adly Mansour.
“Interim president Adly Mansour issued a presidential decree promoting General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, minister of defense, to the rank of field marshal,” said the statement.
The move comes amid heated speculation that Sisi will step down to become a candidate in Egypt’s coming presidential elections ; in order for Sisi to contest the election, set to take place before the end of April, he has to resign from his post as defense minister and from the military .
Egyptian political analyst Gamal Abdeljawad told Al Arabiya News Channel that the appointment of Gen. Sisi was a “response to popular demand.” Abdeljawad said the Sisi would need to do the right “political maneuvering” to bring the country together.
But opponents of the general see him as a murderer responsible for the death of hundreds of people since the ouster of former President Mursi on July 3, 2013.
Removing the military uniform to assume the more civilian post of presidency could prove to be a perilous step for the most powerful man in Egypt today, according to some observers.
Sisi is yet to publicly announce his intentions to run for president, but he has wide public support since leading Mursi’s ouster and crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood leaders and supporters in the country.
Still, the decision to promote Sisi is a rarity as the country’s military seldom promotes senior officers to the rank of a field marshal.
Long-time ruler Hosni Mubarak, toppled by a popular uprising in 2011, and his predecessors, who all came from the military, were never promoted to the highest military rank.
However, Hussein Tantawi, the former military chief who ruled Egypt between Mubarak’s ouster in February 2011 and Mursi’ election in June 2012, also holds the rank. Mursi replaced Tantawi with Sisi as army chief and defense minister in August 2012.
Following the announcement, the state news agency announced that Egypt's top military council is discussing the public's request for army chief Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to run for president.