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Egypt's Sisi: I will not seek a third term

Egypt's president said that he would not change constitution to allow him to run for a third term in interview with US news network
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi delivers a statement following a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France November 26, 2014 (AFP)

Egypt's president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, will not seek a third term in office, he said in an interview with CNBC, adding that he does not intend to change the constitution and its provision of a two-term presidential limit.

"It doesn't suit me as a president to stay one more day against the will of the Egyptians," he told CNBC over the weekend.

"We will not interfere with (the constitution)... I am with preserving two four-year terms," Sisi added.

However, he did not confirm if he intended to run for a second term when his current term expires next year. Presidential elections are scheduled for spring 2018.

Sisi came to power in 2014, a year after he led the military in ousting the country's first elected president, Mohamed Morsi. Rights groups say Sisi has since led an unprecedented crackdown on political opponents, activists and critical media.

Under Sisi's presidency, thousands of dissidents have been jailed. The government has shut down independent media and heavily restricted the conducting of opinion polls.

Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and other rights groups have accused Egyptian security forces of torture and arbitrary detentions to silence dissent.

“Prosecutions, travel bans and asset freezes against human rights defenders, in addition to repressive new legislation, threaten to effectively eradicate independent civil society,” HRW has said.

Opposition leader

Egyptian human rights lawyer and opposition leader Khaled Ali on Monday became the first person to announce he is running against Sisi, vowing to challenge him in the 2018 presidential election, provided he was not barred from the contest.

If it appeared elections were being rigged, Ali said, he would call for a boycott by opposition candidates, forcing Sisi to be the sole contender.

A Cairo court sentenced Ali in September to three months in jail for public indecency, allegedly over an rude hand gesture.

Ali has appealed, denying the charges which he says are politically motivated. If the guilty verdict is upheld, he will not be allowed to run, even if he is not jailed.

The 45-year-old gained prominence in January, when he won a case that nullified a government transfer of two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia, a deal that had provoked mass protests. 

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