El-Sisi's supporters plan last-minute demos in his support

Ahram Online , Friday 28 Mar 2014

Friday sees plans for demonstrations in support of former military chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, and protests against him by Islamist-affiliated groups

People celebrate after Egypt's former army chief Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi declared his candidacy for a presidential election, in Tahrir square in Cairo March 26, (Photo: Reuters).

Supporters of Egypt’s former military chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi called for demonstrations on Friday in support of his bid for the presidency.

The Rebel (“Tamarod”) campaign, which spearheaded protests against former Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, on Thursday called for nationwide demonstrations in support of El-Sisi, who announced on Wednesday that he was resigning from his military position to stand for election.

The Rebel movement splintered in the months following Morsi's overthrow last summer due to internal differences, including whether to support El-Sisi or prominent leftist candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi.

A number of key organisers left the movement, but its remaining members have decided to back El-Sisi.   

In contrast, the main pro-Morsi coalition, the National Alliance in Support of Legitimacy, said El-Sisi's announcement confirms that Morsi's ouster by the army was "a military coup."

"The mask is removed from the leader of the coup," the alliance said in a statement, and called for marches on Friday against El-Sisi.

The group has called for protests on a regular basis since Morsi’s ouster, although the numbers of demonstrators have decreased significantly in recent months in the face of a crackdown by security forces.

El-Sisi ended months of speculation about his possible candidacy on Wednesday, saying that he was “answering the demands of Egyptians” by running.

He nevertheless faces opposition from Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, the country’s largest political grouping which has nonetheless seen hundreds of leaders and members jailed since Morsi’s ouster. Liberal and leftist groups have also expressed qualms about the presence of a presidential candidate from the military.

Presidential elections are scheduled to be concluded before mid-July.

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