Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi / Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi
Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi will not seek a third term in office, he said 7 November 2017. Sisi said in the interview that he does not intend to change the Egyptian constitution and will preserve the two four-year presidential terms outlined in the document. However, he did not confirm if he intends to run for a second-term after March 2018 when his first term expires. Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi became Egypt's new president after securing a landslide victory of over 96 percent of the valid votes, with over 23 million voters casting their ballots for him, according to an unofficial vote count as of 29 May 2014.
El-Sisi's only contender, leftist Hamdeen Sabahi, garnered a humble 3.5 percent, with less than 800,000 votes. The turnout is around 47 percent. A surprise in the 2014 presidential race was the number of invalidated votes – exceeding 1 million – which prompted jokes on social media that Sabahi and the spoilt ballots were competing for second place in the election.
The presidential election was the second since the 25 January 2011 revolution that led to the ouster of autocrat Hosni Mubarak. In 2012, the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi won in a runoff with 52 percent, just over 13 million votes. The turnout was 51 percent.
Desperate efforts by the government to boost the turnout by extending voting to three days have punctured the myth of Sissi’s overwhelming popularity and the notion that he can rule Egypt successfully without regard to the views of millions who showed their ambivalence or disapproval by staying home.
The lack of enthusiasm for Sissi was not surprising. Despite their many disappointments since the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak three years ago, Egyptians have become used to a certain amount of political freedom and saw little reason to participate in an election whose results were seen as predetermined. Also, the support for Sissi that developed during Morsi’s misrule has faded since the 2013 coup.
A May 2014 poll by the Pew Research Center showed that 72 percent of Egyptians were unhappy with the direction of the country. Barely half of those polled -- 54 percent -- supported the coup against Morsi, the same percentage that said they approved of Sissi. According to the poll, 43 percent opposed the ouster of Morsi, 45 percent viewed Sissi unfavorably and 42 percent expressed a favorable opinion of Morsi,
Egypt's Abdel Fattah al-Sissi said on March 26, 2014 he had resigned from his positions as defense minister and army chief and announced he would run for the presidency in the forthcoming election that he was expected to win easily. Egypt's military council endorsed a presidential bid by the army chief who led the ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi last year. The decision came on 27 January 2014 and was the first step before the resignation of the general and his candidacy announcement. In order for Sisi to contest the election he has to resign from his post as defense minister and from the military. Just before Egypt's top generals approved Sissi's candidacy, interim president Adly Mansour promoted him to the military's highest rank of field marshal.
General Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi was First Deputy Prime Minister, Commander in Chief, and Minister of Defense and Military Production. On 12 August 2012 Mohamed Morsi, Egypt's elected president, sent his predecessor, Egypt's de facto ruler Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, into retirement, and appointed a new defense minister General Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi. El-Sisi swore an oath in front of the president on Sunday, propelling the little-known general and military intelligence head into the spotlight as the new commander-in-chief of the armed forces. El-Sisi was Egypt's first defence minister not to hold the top rank of Field Marshal.
El-Sissi was a virtual unknown when Morsi picked him as defense minister. At 58, el-Sissi was a relatively fresh face compared to the old guard military council that had continued to exert its influence even after Egypt's first freely-elected president came to power. Despite being part of the military council since February 2011, the new army chief kept a relatively low profile.
As head of military intelligence, El-Sisi had been one of the top Egyptian military figures coordinating with the US in the war against terrorism and he was a familiar face in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf. His selection as the replacement for Field Marshal Tantawi, who was nearly 20 years his senior, not only obtained Washington's blessing but Riyadh's as well. Following El-Sisi's appointment, US officials expressed confidence that he would maintain close relations with their country, which provides Egypt with $1.3 billion a year in military aid, and that he would uphold Egypt's peace treaty with Israel. The Wall Street Journal noted that Obama's top counter-terrorism advisor, John Brennan, had dinner with El-Sisi during a visit to Cairo in October 2011. But contrary to the impression given by the media that his appointment was the result of an arrangement between the presidential palace in Cairo and the White House, the latter had no say in the matter. According Al-Ahram Weekly, the only part that Washington played was that it signalled its support.
El-Sisi was born on 19 November 1954, making him at age 57 the youngest member of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF). He graduated from Egypt's military academy in 1977 becoming an army officer serving in the infantry corps. El-Sisi went on to pursue higher education, in the course of which he obtained two masters degrees, one from a British military college and the other through a fellowship with an American academy. El-Sisi held various leading posts in the army including commander of Egypt's Mechanized Infantry Battalion and the head of information and security at the General Secretariat of the Defence Ministry. He also served as the Egyptian military attaché in Saudi Arabia, following Tantawi's career path: Tantawi served as a military attaché in Pakistan for several years. Among other notable appointments, El-Sisi was made chief of staff of the Northern Military Zone (in Alexandria) and then commander of the Northern Military Zone before being promoted to head of military intelligence.
Media-shy El-Sisi sparked national and international uproar when he publically admitted that members of the army had subjected female protesters, arrested during the infamous March 2011 clashes on Tahrir Square, to forced "virginity tests." In an April 2012 press statement intended to defend the armed forces, he admitted that "the virginity test procedure was done to protect the girls from rape as well to protect the soldiers and officers from rape accusations." El-Sisi promised human rights group Amnesty International, during an organised meeting in Cairo in June, that the army would no longer carry out the controversial forced tests.
The relatively youthful age of Egypt's new defence minister was seen to give him an edge over Egypt's previous military commanders-in-chief such as 76-year-old Tantawi or 84-year-old Mubarak. El-Sisi was the first defence minister in Egyptian history to be appointed by a democratically elected head of state.
Muslim Brotherhood sources close to Mursi said that El-Sisi had become personally acquainted with the president in 2011, but that the two drew closer after Mursi became head of the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP). El-Sisi began to communicate more frequently with Mursi and Mursi visited El-Sisi in his office in military intelligence. Although El-Sisi was a member of the SCAF, he was known to have reservations about the way SCAF was handling the post-revolutionary transition. These objections stemmed from a different outlook towards and type of relationship with representatives from the diverse shades of the political spectrum and with the Muslim Brothers in particular.
Following El-Sisi's appointment, rumours and conjectures began to circulate that El-Sisi had a Muslim Brotherhood background or was Muslim Brotherhood by inclination. Accusations originally propagated by controversial anti-revolutionary talk show host Tawfik Okasha in June 2012 that he was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood or "their man in SCAF" were again leveled at the general. Rumors also spread that his wife wears the niqab (full face veil). But it was hard to believe that a military careerist such as El-Sisi could be connected with the previously banned Islamist group. The security investigations that would have been conducted on him rule out such a possibility. Tthe SCAF released a short statement denying these claims and insisting that its members have no partisan or ideological affiliation to any political powers in Egypt.
But el-Sissi's allegiances were initially unclear. He said nothing when Morsi assumed extraordinary powers to push through a new constitution - one that protected the powerful interests of the military. And when el-Sissi said in April 2012 that “the hand that harms any Egyptian must be cut,” both pro- and anti-Morsi forces felt he was their man.
By June 2013 there were calls in Egypt for the military, which handed power over to just a year earlier, to assume power in Egypt again. There appeared to be confusion over how, exactly, the military will respond or whether it was taking any sides. It had warned that it will intervene rather than allow the country to fall into what defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi called a “dark tunnel of conflict,” and he had moved troops into position around cities across the country.
On 03 July 2013 the Egyptian military deposed President Mohamed Morsi and suspended the country’s constitution, the country’s defense minister said. The constitution was suspended and a panel was formed that will review and amend it in accordance with the people’s demands, Egyptian Defense Minister Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi said in a televised address to the nation. An early presidential election will be held and during the transition period the country will be led by the head of Constitutional Court, the minister said. General Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi spoke later on national television, for the first time since Morsi's July 3 ouster. He said Morsi, Egypt's first democratically elected president, had lost legitimacy because of mass protests by his opponents. But he rejected accusations the removal was religiously motivated.
Army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said the military could no longer stand by as unrest and violent protests filled the streets of Egypt. Speaking on national television, Sisi called for national reconciliation as he suspended the constitution and announced early elections. “Based on our national and historical responsibility, we are convening with all national and political figures, youth, without excluding anyone, to agree on a future direction that includes steps to achieve a strong and coherent Egyptian society that does not exclude any of its people, its movements, and put an end to this state of divisions and conflict," said Sisi.
Details of the military's concerns about the Islamist president later emerged. They lent some credence to accusations of behind the scenes meetings with anti-Morsi protesters who were fed up with increasing Islamism and a collapsing economy. The military, which has vast business interests - some estimates are as high as a quarter of Egypt's output - saw it's domain in jeopardy as well. General el-Sissi was seen as a future president.
The low-key soldier was barely known when he was appointed in August 2012 as defense minister by Mohamed Morsi, the Islamist president elected as the Muslim Brotherhood candidate. But he soon he was seen as a savior by a swath of Egypt. As defense minister he was popular within the military thanks to measures to ease the lives of the lower ranks.
He was also known to be an observant Muslim. Because of his piety, many concluded Gen Sisi would be a perfect fit to lead the army under Morsi’s Islamist regime. Not only did his wife don the Islamic headscarf now sported by most Egyptian women, but one of his daughters is also said to wear the niqab – or full face veil. He was ideologically OK with Islam taking a larger role in public life. He personally has a huge sense of accountability to God. He is also someone who memorised the Koran when he was young.
A 1977 graduate from the military academy, Sisi, who was born in Cairo, was too young to have served in Egypt’s wars with Israel. But he progressed through the ranks in a mechanised infantry division and served as commander of the northern military region. During one stint abroad, he was Egypt’s military attaché in Saudi Arabia – which had been Egypt’s foremost regional ally. In 2011, after the Arab uprisings reached Egypt and brought down Hosni Mubarak, the previous president, he was appointed head of military intelligence.
Despite pressure from Mubarak-era elites to end Mr Morsi’s presidency, Sisi was among the last to be converted to the idea of a coup, probably for fear of the consequences. But he was eventually won over.
• Name: Abdel Fattah Said Hussein Khalil el-Sisi
• Place and date of birth: Cairo- 19 November 1954
• Graduated from Egyptian Military Academy in 1977
• Marital status: Married
• Sons: Four sons “3 boys and a girl”
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