A man sits under a banner with a photo of Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as he drinks his tea at the Al Mosheer Cafe, or "Marshal Cafe," in Cairo on Jan. 27. / Mohammed Abu Zaid, AP
CAIRO â?? Egypt's Supreme Council of the Armed Forces announced Monday that it supports a presidential run by the nation's army chief in a vote in response to the demands of the people.
In a statement broadcast on Egyptian television, the council of generals said the candidacy of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi for president is "a mandate and an obligation."
The state news agency had reported that the military council unanimously delegated al-Sisi to run in the election, which is likely to be held by the end of April. If he does, he could be the next leader of Egypt.
"He is overwhelmingly supported by the Egyptian population right now," said Tarek Radwan, associate director for research at the Atlantic Council's Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East in Washington.
That may present a problem for President Obama, whose administration has shunned al- Sisi since he ousted the elected president, Mohammed Morsi, in July after protests by millions of Egyptians who accused Morsi of becoming a dictator.
The White House did not invite Egypt to an economic summit of 47 African leaders in Washington to be held this year. State Department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf blamed the African Union for the snub.
Harf said Egypt had been suspended from the African Union, so it could not attend, but Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Badr Abdelbati said the AU is not connected to the summit and non-union members such as Morocco were not snubbed.
In July, Obama said he was displeased with the ouster of Morsi, who, although he was forcing through edicts that prompted widespread unrest, was the first freely elected president in Egyptian history.
Since the overthrow of Morsi, al-Sisi has overseen the drafting of a constitution to replace a Morsi version that opponents alleged was written to curtail the rights of minority religions, political parties and women. The new version passed overwhelmingly in a nationwide vote this month. Al-Sisi has vowed to hold parliamentary and presidential elections this year.
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