The widely expected move is almost certain to increase political
tensions and anger Islamist militants who have stepped up attacks on
the state since Sisi ousted Islamist president Mohamed Mursi in July
after mass protests against him.
It will also deepen concerns that military men will again dominate
Egypt after a 2011 popular uprising raised hopes of a civilian
The newspaper, Al-Seyassah, quoted Sisi as saying in an interview
that he had no alternative but to meet the wishes of the Egyptian
people for him to run.
"I will not reject the demand," said Sisi, who is seen as a decisive
figure that can ease political turmoil that has hit Egypt's economy
"I will present this to the Egyptian people to renew confidence
through free voting."
There was no official confirmation that Sisi will contest elections
expected within six months. A statement from Egypt's military
spokesman said comments that appeared in the Kuwaiti newspaper were
not direct quotes from Sisi. But the spokesman did not deny that
Sisi would run for president.
Mursi and his Muslim Brotherhood movement accuse Sisi of staging a
coup and undermining democratic gains made since a popular uprising
ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
After deposing Mursi, Sisi unveiled a political roadmap meant to
lead to free and fair elections.
But under his watch, security forces have mounted one of the
fiercest crackdowns against the Brotherhood and stifled dissent,
drawing fire from human rights groups.
About 1,000 Brotherhood members have been killed in the streets, top
leaders have been jailed and the group has been declared a terrorist
The Brotherhood, which says it is a peaceful organization, has been
largely driven underground. But it is resilient and is likely to
keep challenging Sisi.
Al Qaeda-inspired militant groups based in the Sinai have been
waging an insurgency that has gained momentum since Sisi installed a
government. Hundreds of security forces have been killed in the
largely lawless peninsula.
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The militants have also struck elsewhere, including Cairo.
Western diplomats say Sisi had resisted running for president until
recently, fearful that managing Egypt's multitude of problems would
be a daunting task.
Saudi Arabia, the United Emirates and Kuwait, who are suspicious of
the Brotherhood, showered Egypt with billions of dollars after
That aid has kept the economy afloat through political upheaval and
street protests which scared away investors and tourists. But the
government has yet to come up with a long-term plan to boost
Sisi has become deeply popular in Egypt. There are Sisi posters,
T-shirts and even chocolate bars. He is portrayed as a savior on
state and private television channels.
But Sisi is aware that Egyptians, with the help of the army, have
ousted two presidents in three years. If he fails to deliver, mass
protests could erupt again.
"We will not play with people's dreams or tell them we have a magic
wand," said Sisi in the interview with the Kuwaiti newspaper. "I
will tell them let's join hands and work together to build this
country of 90 million."
(Reporting by Michael Georgy; editing by Jon Boyle)
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