Egypt ' s army chief Abdel Fattah al - Sisi says he will run for president if people request it and the military support the bid.

" If I run then it must be at the request of the people and with a mandate from my army… We work in a democracy, " he said, speaking at an army seminar in Cairo on Saturday.

Sisi ousted Egypt ' s first democratically elected leader Mohamed Morsi last July after mass protests against his one - year rule.

After the army overthrew Morsi, it appointed an interim president and outlined a roadmap for democratic transition.

Morsi ' s Muslim Brotherhood supporters, who accuse the army of staging a coup, have held frequent protests calling for his reinstatement. But the security forces have launched a wide crackdown against the group, arresting thousands on charges of violence.

Egypt is set to hold a referendum on a new constitution on January 14-15, a major milestone in that roadmap which will clear the way for presidential and parliamentary elections. Analysts and politicians say it is unlikely that Sisi will announce plans to run before the referendum is complete.

Sisi also on Saturday urged Egyptians to " assume national responsibility and turn out in force to vote in the constitutional referendum in order to correct the democratic path and build a modern democratic state. "

Sisi is reviled by Morsi ' s supporters who view him as the mastermind of a bloody military coup against the country ' s first freely elected head of state.

Security forces have launched a massive crackdown against Morsi ' s Muslim Brotherhood, which it calls a terrorist group, arresting its leaders and forcing others underground.