Former Egyptian armed forces chief of staff General Sami Anan said on Saturday he intended to run in the country’s presidential election in March.
In a video declaration posted on Anan’s official Facebook page, he said he will run for president to save Egypt from incorrect policies and called on state institutions to maintain neutrality toward all candidates.
“I call on civilian and military institutions to maintain neutrality towards everyone who had announced their intention to run and not take unconstitutional sides of a president who will leave his post in a few months,” Anan said.
Anan said in his statement that he had formed his civilian presidential team, which includes Hisham Genena, a former policeman and judge who was appointed to head Egypt’s corruption watchdog in 2012 and was sacked by Sisi in 2016.
The vote will be held on March 26-28, with a run-off vote on April 24-26 if no candidate wins more than 50 percent in the first round. Candidates will register from January 20 to January 29.
On Friday, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced that he will run for the second term in Egypt’s presidential elections.
During Hekyat Watan’ [Nation’s story] conference, al-Sisi threatened all those who will try to reach Egypt’s presidency.
He said while announcing his candidacy,”There are people I know who are corrupt, I will not allow them to come near this chair.”
Few days ago,Al-Sisi made major changes to the intelligence agency, which included dismissing the director of the agency, along with other intelligence officials and officers.
Sisi’s chief of staff Abbas Kamel will serve as interim head of the General Intelligence Directorate, the non-military state branch of the Egyptian intelligence services, replacing Khalid Fawzy, who has served since 2014, according to Al-Masry al-Youm.
There is no doubt that these major changes are a part of the current restructuring process carried out by al-Sisi ahead of the presidential elections, amid presidential fears of developments or changes taking place that would impact Al-Sisi’s chances of being elected for another presidential term.
Saudi analyst Jamal Khashoggi suggested that the promotion of Kamel indicated a dwindling pool of potential appointments for the post.
He tweeted, “When Sisi can’t find anyone else but his chief of staff to hand over the general intelligence to, you know there is a deep confidence issue within Egypt’s ruling circles.”
In fact, some Egyptian political sources linked the dismissal to the recent leaks published by The New York Times and broadcasted by Mekameleen television channel.
These leaks reveal an officer from the military intelligence agency giving instructions to journalists to incite against Qatar and Kuwait, as well as convince the Egyptian public opinion to abandon Jerusalem.
Moreover, the leaked tapes revealed also the military intelligence agency order media smear campaign against former presidential candidate Ahmed Shafik.
The Former Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik was al-Sisi’s most serious competitor, however, he said that he was no longer considering running for president in this year’s elections.
The leaked tapes revealed last week strongly suggest that Ahmed Shafik abandoned his Egyptian presidential bid after being told that he would be smeared with allegations of sexual misconduct and corruption, sources close to the former prime minister have told Middle East Eye.
MEE’s sources did not divulge the identity of the messenger but said that they had claimed to have video tapes of alleged sexual misconduct and threatened to make Shafik the focus of a corruption investigation.
One of Shafiq’s two daughters would also face corruption charges, the messenger is alleged to have said.
Sources in the Shafik camp told MEE that the threats were made to force him to abandon his bid for the presidency.
In the same context, a leaked conversation revealed that an Egyptian secret service agent ordered a prominent TV host to prepare a show reel of footage to discredit former presidential hopeful Ahmed Shafik as a Muslim Brotherhood sympathize.
Audio of conversations between the agent Captain Ashraf al-Kholi and the host Azmi Megahed, broadcast by the Turkish-based Arabic television channel Mekameleen, reveals a plan to “crack”Shafik’s head and smear him if he steps out of line.
The Kholi-Megahed conversations appear to have taken place before Sunday. In a transcript seen by Middle East Eye, Kholi tells Megahed of bargaining behind the scenes with Shafik, and the need for a smear campaign if things go wrong.
“I want you to prepare Shafik’s videos when he was talking to the Brotherhood, because now there is bargaining and we want to see where we get with him. If he persists we shall dig out the old stuff,” Kholi tells the TV host.
Megahed, a former army brigadier now working for al-Aseema channel, replies, “I am ready, sir.”
The conversations span two days, where Kholi and Megahed discuss Shafik’s return to Egypt and the state’s plans on dealing with him.
“Let me tell you. With regard to Shafik… we shall not do him harm,”says Kholi.
“I shall not touch him at all. I said a few words yesterday. Now, only when things are clear we’ll do [proceed],” replies Megahed.
“You know that if he is willing to go along with us as we wish, he will be treated as one of the former leaders of the armed forces. He will have all respect and appreciation,”says Kholi.
“But if he is… with the Brotherhood?”
“We shall crack his father’s head,” replies Kholi – an Egyptian colloquialism meaning they will go after Shafik and his family.
The secret agent tells Megahed that there were members of the intelligence services who were supportive of Shafik.
“You know there are a few whores in the general intelligence who have taken Shafik’s side. Wherever a stench is smelled, eyes will be set.”
In the later conversation, Megahed tells Kholi he acted as ordered on air.
“I said, ‘Folks! Shafik’s issue has proven that Egypt has in it a respectable presidency and a respectable leadership,”Megahed tells Kholi.
“He was neither imprisoned nor humiliated and nothing happened to him,”replies the agent.
“We have a respectable leadership that fears God. It fears God in dealing with the people and in dealing with the country,” says Megahed
“It would never humiliate the leaders of the army,”Kholi adds in agreement.
Those challenging al-Sisi describe a sweeping effort to kill off their campaigns before they have begun, with media attacks on candidates, intimidation of supporters and a nomination process stacked in favor of the former general.