CAIRO — An Egyptian lawyer and TV personality who declared days ago that he was running for president pulled out of the race Saturday, and state media quoted him as saying he had received a sign from God that victory belonged to former army chief Abdel Fattah Sisi.
Mortada Mansour, known for his outspoken style and sometimes eccentric views, also took a parting swipe at the only Sisi opponent left in the race, leftist politician Hamdeen Sabahi, the Ahram website reported.
Mansour, who had announced his candidacy last weekend, has called for the abrogation of the Camp David accords that led to peace between Egypt and Israel, has threatened to go to war with Ethiopia over water rights, and has urged a ban on Facebook and Twitter.
No details were provided regarding Mansour’s divine guidance on Sisi’s prospective win, but signs and portents often play a role in Egyptian politics. In a recording leaked last year, Sisi said he had had a dream in which he learned that it was his destiny to lead Egypt.
The former field marshal, who left the army in order to run as a civilian, has been little seen since declaring last month that he would run for president. The public has glimpsed a few carefully choreographed scenes, including an early-morning bicycle ride during which Sisi, in a track suit, chatted with passersby. Photos were released Saturday of the candidate, in a suit and tie, meeting with the Coptic pope on Easter eve.
Sisi’s fervently nationalistic supporters tend to react angrily to any implied criticism of him. A popular satirical show starring Bassem Youssef, who has made fun of the cult of personality that sprang up around Sisi after the coup, will be off the air between now and the election, the Saudi-owned network that carries the show announced.
Saudi Arabia has been a prime economic and political supporter of the military-backed interim government. Like Egypt, it has declared Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group, and it recalled its ambassador to Qatar after the Persian Gulf emirate voiced support for the Brotherhood in the wake of the coup.