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Former army chief Sami Anan announces candidacy for presidency

The former army chief made his intention to run public via a video on Facebook, calling on Egypt's state institutions to 'remain neutral'

General Sami Anan withdrew his presidential bid in 2014 (AFP)

General Sami Anan, Egypt's former armed forces chief of staff, announced on Saturday, his intention to run in the upcoming presidential election in March.

His announcement comes after Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi confirmed his intention to run for a second term in the election late on Friday. 

The election is Egypt's third since the 2011 uprising that deposed President Hosni Mubarak.

The announcement also comes after Sisi fired his intelligence chief after controversial leaks to the New York Times appeared to reveal a covert government attempt to convince the public to back Donald Trump's Jerusalem plan.

Anan made his intention to run public via a video on his Facebook page. He called on Egypt's state institutions to "remain neutral" and not to take sides in the election. 

The former army chief also said that Egypt's deteriorating security situation across the country and Sinai was a result of "incorrect policies" which he vowed to change. 

Call on civilian and military institutions to maintain neutrality towards everyone who had announced their intention to run 

General Sami Anan 

Anan said that he had already put in place a "team of civilians" to help him win the election. 

His team includes Hisham Geneina, a former head of Egypt's anti-corruption watchdog who was sacked by Sisi in 2016 after publishing a damning report that put the losses from graft at more than $100bn.  

"This is all the result of wrong policies which have put all the responsibilities on the armed forces without rational policies that would enable the civilian sector of the state to carry out its role in full, alongside the role of the armed forces," the former Egyptian armed chief of staff said.

"I call on civilian and military institutions to maintain neutrality towards everyone who had announced their intention to run and not take unconstitutional sides of a president who will leave his post in a few months," Anan said.

The vote will be held on 26-28 March , with a run-off vote on 24-26 April if no candidate wins more than 50 percent in the first round. Candidates will register from 20 to 29 January. 

Anan served as armed forces chief of staff from 2005 until he was retired by Morsi in 2012 and analysts said his candidacy might attract Egyptians nostalgic for the relative stability of the Mubarak era.

When the longtime strongman was forced to step down by the Arab spring protests of 2011, he ceded power to the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF), an interim executive made up of 20 generals in which Anan served as number two.

The top post was held by Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the army commander in chief who was replaced by Sisi at the same time that Anan was retired.

Would-be candidates for the presidency must register with the National Elections Authority by 29 January.

Several prominent figures who had been seen as potential challengers to Sisi had already ruled themselves out even before registrations opened on Saturday.

Former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq said on 7 January that he would not stand, reversing a pledge he made from the United Arab Emirates in November.

Shafiq had disappeared for 24 hours after being deported to Egypt last month following years in exile in the UAE.

On Monday, Mohamed Anwar Sadat, a dissident and nephew of the late president of the same name, said he would not stand either because the climate was not right for free elections.

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