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UAE premier: Egypt's Sisi could run as a civilian

A supporter of Egypt's army chief and defense minister General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi holds a Koran (L) and a cross during a protest in suppor
A supporter of Egypt's army chief and defense minister General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi holds a Koran (L) and a cross during a protest in suppor

DUBAI (Reuters) - The United Arab Emirates prime minister said on Monday Egypt's army chief should not run as a military man for president, but if he stood as a civilian that would be a personal matter, the Gulf state's official news agency reported.

A story outlining the views of premier Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum appeared on the WAM agency several hours after he gave an interview to the BBC, in which he was quoted as saying Sisi was better off staying in the military than running for president.

The UAE, along with the Gulf's dominant Sunni Muslim state Saudi Arabia, championed army chief General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi after he deposed Islamist President Mohamed Mursi last year.

They have since given Egypt billions of dollars in economic aid.

Sisi, who removed Mursi in July after mass protests, gave his clearest indication yet on Saturday that he will run for the presidency.

The WAM story quoted an official source in Sheikh Mohammed's office as saying:

"His Royal Highness's brotherly advice is that General al-Sisi should not run as a military man for the post of the presidency. However his nomination as a civilian, in response to the demands of the people, that is a personal affair that only concerns General Sisi.

"The source ... affirmed that the UAE respected the will of the Egyptian people and supports their political choices."

In his earlier comments reported by the BBC, Sheikh Mohammed, who is also the ruler of Dubai, also said Egypt was better off without Mursi.

In Cairo, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry declined to comment.

(Writing by Yara Bayoumy, Editing by Hugh Lawson, John Stonestreet)

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