In a TV interview, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi says it was his duty to run for President
He vows to finish off the Muslim Brotherhood if elected
Egyptians will head to the polls to pick a new President later this month
Egypt’s former military chief doesn’t mince words when he describes what would happen if he wins this month’s presidential vote.
In a taped interview broadcast on Egyptian satellite networks Monday, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi vowed to finish off the Muslim Brotherhood if he’s elected, arguing that’s what his country’s people want.
And he said he had no choice but to run for President.
“Due to the challenges facing Egypt and the targeting of Egypt from inside and outside of the country … any responsible patriot has a duty toward his country and its future, and has the opportunity to come forward to protect this country, and this people, and their future,” el-Sisi said.
The second part of the interview is due to air Tuesday.
El-Sisi deposed Egypt’s first freely elected leader, President Mohamed Morsy of the Muslim Brotherhood, last year following mass protests against Morsy’s rule.
The officer is popular among Egyptians who supported the army’s decision to remove Morsy from power. His supporters see him as the kind of strongman needed to end the turmoil dogging Egypt since a popular uprising ended Hosni Mubarak’s three decades of one-man rule in 2011.
In Monday’s interview, he said there had been two attempts to assassinate him, but that didn’t stop him from wanting to run for President.
“I believe in fate,” he said. “I am not afraid.”
He appeared relaxed in the interview, talking about his children and saying his wife had urged him to seek election.
El-Sisi resigned from his military post in March to run for the presidency.
He’ll face just one challenger at the polls, Hamdeen Sabahi, who also had harsh words for the Muslim Brotherhood when he spoke to CNN last month, accusing the group of being “responsible for bloodshed and sponsoring terrorism in Egypt.”
But Sabahi said he would scrap a controversial law enacted last fall and backed by el-Sisi, which places severe restrictions on demonstration in Egypt.
“I will issue a law that protects and regulates, not prevents, demonstration. And I will release all the innocent people who were convicted according to this unconstitutional law, and particularly college students in Egypt who were angry because of the excessive force used by the police,” he said.
In Monday’s interview, broadcast on the Egyptian satellite channels CBC and ONTV, el-Sisi defended the protest law, saying that “irresponsible” demonstrations threaten the state.
Egyptians are scheduled to head to the polls to vote for President on May 26 and 27. Parliamentary elections will be held soon afterward, but dates have not yet been determined, Egypt’s state-run Ahram Online reported Monday.
CNN’s Mohammed Tawfeeq, Saad Abedine and Marie-Louise Gumuchian contributed to this report.