CAIRO: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced on Monday his candidacy for a third term in office, ahead of December elections he is widely expected to win.
“As I have responded to the people´s call before, I heed the call now and announce my intention to run and complete the dream in a new presidential term,” Sisi, 68, told a cheering crowd in Egypt´s new capital -- the crowning jewel of a megaproject in the desert east of Cairo.
State-aligned television showed thousands of people celebrating the announcement in ready-built stages across the country.
Earlier on Monday, rallies were held in Cairo calling for Sisi to declare his candidacy. “There is no one better for the future,” said Hassan Afifi, a teacher who escorted a bus full of his students to a rally in western Cairo.
Sisi urged Egyptians to head to the polls on December 10-12 “even if not to vote for me”. The president, whose security forces have been accused of harassing and detaining opponents, applauded other candidates and hailed “a real beginning to vibrant political life full of pluralism.”
A year after deposing Islamist president Mohamed Mursi, Sisi won 96 percent of the vote in 2014. Four years later, he scored a 97-percent victory against one of his own supporters, after more prominent candidates were sidelined or arrested.
This time, as Egyptians grow increasingly frustrated with an unrelenting economic crisis, presidential hopefuls have emerged from the woodwork of an opposition decimated by Sisi´s decade-long crackdown on dissent.