Update at 1:53 p.m. ET. El-Sissi Should Run For President:
NPR's Leila Fadel sends us this update from Cairo:
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces says that Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi should heed the calls of the people to run for president and that el-Sissi is free act as his conscience guides him. El-Sissi hasn't explicitly declared but what is clear is he will run for president.
This is no surprise, as the military has a made a move to cement its control of the country ever since President Mohammed Morsi was removed from office last July.
Presidential elections are set for April.
Our Original Post Continues:
The much-anticipated announcement from Egypt's top army officer that he will seek that nation's presidency appears more likely than ever after this news from Cairo:
"Egypt's army chief, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who led last summer's coup ousting the Islamist president, inched closer to running for the country's top position on Monday, receiving a promotion to the military's highest rank and meeting with top commanders to discuss a possible presidential bid." (The Associated Press)
Egypt's interim president, Adly Mansour, promoted el-Sissi from the post of general to that of field marshal.
Egypt's military removed President Mohammed Morsi from office last July, after several weeks of protests in the streets from Egyptians who weren't happy with Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood party. Morsi, Egypt's first democratically elected president, had only been in office about a year. His election to the post followed, of course, the February 2011 toppling of President Hosni Mubarak's regime in the early days of the Arab Spring.
NPR's Leila Fadel reports from Cairo that word of el-Sissi's promotion has been followed by a report from Egypt's state news agency that the military has given him the OK to run for president. As she adds in a report for our Newscast Desk:
"It's no surprise that el-Sissi is about to announce that he will run for president. Egyptians have expected it for months and the third anniversary of Egypt's uprising turned into a mandate day for the military chief.
"His face is on chocolates at cafes, and his posters hang on storefronts across the capital. Over the weekend it was made clear that you either support the military or your deemed a traitor.
"But analysts say the military may be overreaching as el-Sissi shoots for the top job in a country mired in problems, including a battered economy, clogged streets, a low-level insurgency and a corrupt bureaucratic system. Those are problems that haven't been solved and that have made Egyptians angry enough to overthrow past leaders."
But "if el-Sissi runs in the elections due by the end of April," the AP says, "he would likely sweep the vote, given his popularity among a significant sector of the public, the lack of alternatives, the almost universal support in Egypt's media and the powerful atmosphere of intimidation against any criticism of the general in the country."
Correction at 1:53 p.m. ET. Military Statement:
An earlier version of this post noted that el-Sissi had announced that he was running for president. He has not explicitly declared that, but the military has now opened the door for that possibility. We've updated the top of this post to reflect that.