Egyptian Defense Minister Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi will not be included in an upcoming cabinet reshuffle so as to allow him to run for president, an Egyptian daily reported on Saturday. The report was denied by Egypt’s prime minister.
“Political sources close to the government” told the independent daily Al-Wafd that el-Sissi will not be included in the new government set to be announced during the second half of January, and will be replaced as defense minister by current chief of staff Sidqi Subhi.
Egyptian law requires presidential candidates to register two months before the vote, but shortens the waiting period for retired police and military officers to one month, the report said.
El-Sissi, a 59-year-old former chief of staff, is widely considered the most popular figure in Egyptian politics for his leading role in the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood president Mohammed Morsi in July 2013.
Voted man of year by Time magazine last month, local polls predict el-Sissi would win a landslide victory if he chose to run for president.
But Egyptian Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi said on Saturday that reports of el-Sissi’s removal from the next cabinet are “untrue.”
“I have never heard of this before,” Beblawi said during a television interview, according to the independent daily Al-Masry Al-Youm.
The paper quoted “knowledgeable military sources” to the effect that el-Sissi had not yet decided whether to run for president.
A referendum on Egypt’s new constitution is scheduled to take place on January 14 and 15, followed by presidential elections before the end of April.
Parliamentary elections will subsequently take place before July, Al-Masry Al-Youm reported.