Adli Mansour: Who is Egypt’s New Interim Leader?

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Egyptian State TV / AP

This image made from Egyptian State Television shows Egypt's interim president Adly Mansour speaking after being sworn in at the constitutional court in Cairo, July 4, 2013

For more than 20 years, Adli Mansour served in relative obscurity as deputy chief justice of the Egyptian Supreme Constitutional Court. Two days ago he assumed the post of chief justice. Now he has just been catapulted to the highest office in the land.

The little-known judge was thrust into the limelight when Egyptian General Fattah Abdul al-Sisi announced on live television that Mansour would succeed ousted President Mohammed Morsi as de facto head-of-state. The general promised that he would help to establish a “strong and diverse” government, giving Mansour the power to revise the constitution and form an interim government.

Born in Cairo 1945, Mansour graduated from law school in 1967 and spent the next two decades as a career official under the Mubarak and Morsi administrations. According to Al-Ahram, Mansour helped draft the election laws that later brought ousted Morsi  to power. It was Morsi, currently detained at an unknown military facility, who appointed Mansour as head of the court.

Little is known about Mansour’s political sympathies. The New York Times cites one Egyptian blogger who dubbed him the “mystery man.” But experts predict that his remit will likely be constrained to rewriting the electoral laws. With tempers running high and bloodshed in the streets, an anodyne, obscure figure may be just what Egypt needs to see it through this rocky transition period.

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General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi

Adli Mansour owes his new position to General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, and the Egyptian army chief has been the prime mover in Morsi’s fall. It was he who issued the 48-hour ultimatum to the now detained former President, and it was he who announced on state television that Morsi “did not meet the demands of the masses.”

Sisi, 58, has been serving as Egypt’s army chief since last August. Prior to this, he was head of military intelligence and was the youngest member of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. He was once posted to Saudi Arabia as Egypt’s military attache. The BBC describes Gen Sisi as having a “calm public persona” — unlike that of the stereotypical military leader. He is “often [seen] smiling and [is] known for delivering speeches on emotive topics.”

He studied for a diploma in military sciences at an Egyptian military academy in 1977, and joined an mechanized infantry battalion but has never been in combat. He then trained in the U.K. Joint Services Command and Staff College in 1992, followed by a master’s degree at the U.S. Army War College in Pennsylvania in 2006. Certainly, he has come up with a faster plan to return the country to civilian government than the generals who overthrew Mubarak in 2011.

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