Egypt's military strongman resigns from cabinet to run for presidency
Egypt's military strongman, Field Marshal Abdulfattah el-Sisi, resigned last night as defence minister, paving the way for a run for the presidency and a return to the decades in which the country was led by former military officers.
Field Marshal Sisi summoned a meeting of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to hand in his notice and bring to an end an 18-month term in which he rose from being a virtual unknown to one of the Middle East's most powerful men.
The meeting was joined by the interim president, Adly Mansour, whom he appointed when he overthrew the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohammed Morsi last July.
He was then due to address the nation on television – an unusual honour for someone who is now an ordinary citizen standing for elected office, but a sign of the reverence in which state institutions and pro-regime media hold him.
Field Marshal Sisi was expected to announce his candidacy after the constitutional referendum in January that put into place presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for the summer.
The delay gave rise to speculation that he was having second thoughts, afraid that the parlous state of the economy and Egypt's social problems might tarnish his own reputation and that of the army if he took responsibility for them.
That uncertainty was quashed when, during a speech earlier this month, he said: "I cannot turn my back when the majority wants me to run for president."
The pro-regime media have created a personality cult around the field marshal, newly promoted from general, lavishing praise on his move to stop the rise of the Brotherhood in its tracks last summer.
In the forthcoming election, he will have little competition. Another former general, Sami Enan, has pulled out of the race, while Ahmed Shafiq, the former general and prime minister who narrowly lost to Mr Morsi in 2012, has said he will not stand. (© Daily Telegraph, London)