Cairo (AFP) – A former Egyptian armed forces chief of staff said on Saturday that he will challenge fellow military man Abdel Fattah al-Sisi for the presidency in March.
General Sami Anan’s announcement came just hours after Sisi publicly confirmed he would seek a second term in the March 26-28 election, the third since the 2011 overthrow of longtime strongman Hosni Mubarak.
In a video posted on Facebook, Anan said he would seek to correct the “wrong policies” that had been adopted since Sisi ousted elected Islamist president Mohamed Morsi when commander in chief in 2013.
He said Egypt faced multiple challenges after the long years of turmoil, including deteriorating living conditions and a jihadist insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula.
“This is all the result of wrong policies which have put all the responsibilities on the armed forces without rational policies that would enable the civilian sector of the state to carry out its role in full, alongside the role of the armed forces,” he said.
Anan said he had already put in place a team of civilians to support his bid, including Hisham Geneina, a former head of Egypt’s anti-corruption watchdog who was sacked by Sisi in 2016 after publishing a damning report that put the losses from graft at more than $100 billion.
Anan served as armed forces chief of staff from 2005 until he was retired by Morsi in 2012 and analysts said his candidacy might attract Egyptians nostalgic for the relative stability of the Mubarak era.
When the longtime strongman was forced to step down by the Arab spring protests of 2011, he ceded power to the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF), an interim executive made up of 20 generals in which Anan served as number two.
The top post was held by Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the army commander in chief who was replaced by Sisi at the same time that Anan was retired.
Would-be candidates for the presidency must register with the National Elections Authority by January 29.
Several prominent figures who had been seen as potential challengers to Sisi had already ruled themselves out even before registrations opened on Saturday.
Former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq said on January 7 that he would not stand, reversing a pledge he made from the United Arab Emirates in November.
Shafiq had disappeared for 24 hours after being deported to Egypt last month following years in exile in the UAE.
On Monday, Mohamed Anwar Sadat, a dissident and nephew of the late president of the same name, said he would not stand because the climate was not right for free elections.