Egypt’s Al-Sisi Edges Closer to Presidential Bid

General is now free to run, after endorsement from Supreme Council of Armed Forces

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Mahmoud Khaled / AFP / Getty Images

An Egyptian man holds a portrait of Egypt's Defence Minister General Abdul Fattah al-Sisi outside a polling station during the vote on a new constitution on Jan. 14, 2014 in Giza, Cairo.

The general who led a coup against the first freely elected Egyptian president was endorsed by his staff for a presidential bid Monday and promoted to the military’s highest rank, even as sectarian violence raged across the country.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces “unanimously delegated” Abdul Fattah al-Sisi to run in presidential elections during a meeting Monday, the Associated Press reported. An official announcement of the army chief’s presidential run is expected within a matter of hours.

Al-Sisi’s endorsement comes a day after his Sunday announcement that presidential elections would be held before legislative elections, which will likely result in an increase in the presidential post’s legislative authority. The general would likely sweep to victory in a presidential run, as he enjoys widespread popularity among a large swathe of Egyptian voters and lacks a viable opposition leader. 

Meanwhile, protests swept Egypt’s cities on the third anniversary of its revolution, and a helicopter was shot down in Egypt’s Sinai region.