Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has announced he will run for a second, four-year term in the country’s presidential elections that will take place in March.
Sisi made the expected announcement during a televised conference in Cairo on Friday where he stressed the importance of citizens voting to “preserve the democratic experience that begun four years ago”.
“Your participation in the election will be a strong message,” he said, before jokingly adding that Egyptians would “become exhausted with me again because Egypt needs every sacrifice”.
The presidential vote will be held on March 26-28, with a runoff scheduled for April 24-26, if needed.
Candidates must register between January 20-29.
So far, two candidates have stated their intentions to run: Khaled Ali, a human rights lawyer and opposition leader, and Essam Heggy, an Egyptian space scientist who served as the country’s adviser for scientific affairs from 2013 to 2014.
Earlier this month, Ahmed Shafik, former prime minister, backtracked on his stated intention to be a presidential candidate.
The 76-year-old had previously announced his plan to run in one of his exclusive video message.
The New York Times quoted one of Shafik’s lawyers, who asked not to be named, as saying that the Egyptian government had forced him to withdraw by threatening to investigate previous charges of corruption against him.
As Egypt’s army chief, Sisi became president in 2013 after removing Mohamed Morsi, of the Muslim Brotherhood, in a coup. He went on to win by a landslide in the 2014 presidential elections.
Under Sisi, human rights in Egypt have deteriorated, with organisations reporting that at least 60,000 people have been imprisoned since the general came to power.
There have also been reports of forced disappearances and a clampdown on press freedom.