Egypt’s de facto ruler, Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, has said he will run for president, according to Kuwait’s Al-Seyassah newspaper.
The paper reported on Thursday that Sisi said he had no alternative but to meet the demands of the Egyptian people by running for office in the presidential elections. The first elections since the ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi are set to take place in six months.
This is the first time Sisi has admitted his intention to run for president. He had earlier indicated that he was interested in the position.
"If I run then it must be at the request of the people and with a mandate from my army...We work in a democracy," he said last month.
The army’s top body backed its commander in his aspiration. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces said last week that "the people's trust in Sisi is a call that must be heeded as the free choice of the people."
Although Sisi has gained popularity in Egypt, some are worried that the military will once again come into power and rule the country.
The Muslim Brotherhood is arguing that Sisi staged a coup last summer while forcing democratically elected Mohamed Morsi out of office.
Meanwhile, the military-installed government accuses the Brotherhood of being behind the country’s rise in insurgency and terror attacks.
Following Morsi’s ouster, the military began a violent crackdown against the Brotherhood, killing and arresting the group’s members. An estimated 1,000 Brotherhood members have been killed since the crackdown, including the organization’s top leaders. Another 1,079 Brotherhood supporters were arrested throughout the country.
Al-Qaeda-linked militant groups based in the Sinai have also been prospering, killing hundreds of security forces.
The end of January marked three years since Hosni Mubarak’s ouster. The date was met with relentless clashes between the Muslim Brotherhood and the army, with at least 49 people killed in the violence.
The Muslim Brotherhood was formally labeled a terrorist organization in Egypt in December. Angered supporters of the Brotherhood and its toppled president, Mohamed Morsi, have been defying protest bans and clashing with police in various parts of Egypt ever since.
Meanwhile, a new constitution gained approval from Egyptians earlier this month. The document broadened the army's powers and shielded the military budget from cuts, giving the armed forces the right to approve defense ministers and try civilians in military courts.
The outlawed Muslim Brotherhood boycotted the vote and refused to recognize it. Some 20 million people - over 38 percent of registered voters - took part in the polls.
Following the approval of the new constitution, interim President Adly Mansour announced an early presidential vote before the parliamentary polls - a move which is likely to deepen tensions throughout the country.