Sisi’s concerns about the economy and military delay presidential bid

Abdel Fattah al-Sisi made comments on the presidential elections in a speech addressed to military students, but fell short of announcing his candidacy, Tuesday morning.

In his address marking the end of basic training for new military academy students, Sisi was quoted by the state-run Middle East News Agency as saying that he cannot turn away when the majority is calling on him to run in the next presidential elections, adding that “official procedures” take place over the next few days. The country is going through a difficult moment, Sisi said, and so no one person can handle the responsibility on their own.

Before the military commander’s speech, local newspapers were speculating about whether Sisi would announce his candidacy or not.

The privately owned Al-Shorouk daily reported on Tuesday that economic difficulties facing Egypt are delaying the field marshal from taking the decision. “According to sources helping draft Sisi’s ambitious presidential platform, the lack of funding for his future projects and concerns about the retraction of Gulf support, especially from Saudi Arabia and the Emirates is making him think a lot before taking the difficult decision,” the newspaper reported.

The source, who has reportedly just spent time with Sisi, told Al-Shorouk’s reporter Dina Ezzat that in the current economic context, the field marshal and defense minister is worried about imposing austerity measures, which could hurt his popularity. 

The source added that Sisi will not announce his candidacy until negotiations over financing with Gulf countries are underway, which may also require Sisi to travel.

The source said that Sisi is also worried about letting go of his military position as well as the changing dynamics within the military should he become president. 

A new decree on the formation of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) last week stipulated that the minister of defense, not the president, presides over the council. Some interpreted SCAF’s move as a precautionary measure to ward off executive interference if their commander is also at the helm of the executive. 

Meanwhile, other sources told Al-Shorouk that SCAF is inclined to see Sisi run for the post, adding that some voices within the council will be disappointed if the field marshal does not end up running. In January, SCAF announced that it would support Sisi if he decides to run for the post. 

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