CAIRO: Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, the former Egyptian general who deposed Islamist President Mohammad Morsi and is expected to win in presidential polls this month, has said there have been two attempts to kill him.
In his first interview since announcing his candidacy, Sisi told Egypt’s privately owned CBC and ONTV television channels that there were “two attempts to assassinate me. I believe in fate. I am not afraid.”
He did not say when the assassination attempts took place.
Sisi is expected to easily win the May 26-27 presidential election. The only other candidate is leftist politician Hamdeen Sabahi, who came third in the 2012 election won by Morsi.
Since the army deposed Morsi last July, militants have killed several hundred members of the security forces in bombings and shootings. The interior minister survived an attempt on his life in September.
The army-backed authorities have outlawed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, while thousands of the group’s supporters have been arrested and hundreds killed.
Sisi said he decided to run because of the threats facing the nation after he removed Morsi.
Sisi’s campaign is likely to largely be composed of TV and media interviews and private meetings, with few street appearances, mainly because of security concerns, given the fierce emotions surrounding his candidacy and the wave of militant attacks on the military and police.
The lack of street campaigning is unlikely to damage the 59-year-old, who has been riding a media frenzy lauding him as the savior of the country from the Muslim Brotherhood – once Egypt’s most powerful political force, but now all but crushed by a ferocious crackdown.After ousting Morsi after massive protests against the then-president, Sisi said he did not have political aspirations, and in Monday’s interview he repeated the claim, saying: “I can’t respect myself if I thought ... that I made a plan to seize power in Egypt. I wouldn’t be respecting myself or the people.”
Asked when he changed his mind, he said it was because of “the threats facing Egypt from inside and outside.” He pointed to the turmoil after the Aug. 14 dispersal of two large pro-Morsi protest camps in Cairo, when security forces killed hundreds of Morsi supporters, prompting a backlash of violence around the country and international criticism.
“Remember how Egypt looked, and the security situation and the anxiety – how far it had reached? You saw how the outside world was dealing with us,” he said. He pointed to the “threat of the fall of the nation,” saying, “I couldn’t abandon the people.”
Sisi vowed that the army would have no role in politics if he was elected.
As the poll nears, the country is facing mounting economic woes. The interim government has been struggling with an energy crisis for months amid shortfalls of natural gas, and throughout the day before Sisi’s address, neighborhoods of the capital Cairo were hit by rotating blackouts.