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Sisi, a tough-talker but with smiles

(China Daily) Updated: 2014-05-22 07:02

Egypt's presidential frontrunner Abdel Fattah al-Sisi may come across as a polished civilian after shedding his military uniform, but his brutal crackdown on opponents has raised fears of a return to autocracy.

The former military chief, who once served as chief of military intelligence under former president Hosni Mubarak, is confident of victory in the May 26-27 presidential election.

The 59-year-old became Egypt's most popular political figure and de facto head of state after leading the July 3 ouster of Mohammed Morsi, the country's first freely elected president.

Since campaigning began on May 3, Sisi has said during television interviews that "national security" must take precedence over democratic freedoms.

Such remarks have sparked fears of a return to the authoritarian and autocratic style of rule for which Mubarak was known before his ousting in a popular uprising in 2011.

Since Morsi was toppled in July, more than 1,400 people have been killed and 15,000 jailed in a crackdown on his supporters and the Muslim Brotherhood that has triggered international condemnation.

- AFP

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