CAIRO: Egypt on Sunday (Monday in Manila) announced early presidential elections likely to anoint the general who overthrew Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, as jihadists claimed they downed a military helicopter over a bloody weekend that killed dozens nationwide.
Interim President Adly Mansour announced the poll in a televised address, a day after 49 people died in clashes between Islamist protesters and police and thousands rallied in support of military chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
Sisi was expected to declare his candidacy for the election, scheduled before mid-April, after a show of support including Saturday’s large rally in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.
The weekend clashes and bombings also highlighted the interim government’s preca–rious grip seven months after Morsi’s overthrow.
On Sunday, an al-Qaeda inspired group released a video it said showed its fighters downing with a missile a military helicopter in the lawless Sinai peninsula.
The group, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, also claimed credit for a car bombing outside police headquarters in Cairo on Friday morning that killed four people.
The military has acknowl–edged five soldiers were killed in an incident involving a heli–copter on Saturday, but said it was “an accident.”
Over Friday and Saturday, five bombs went off after the attack on the Cairo police headquarters, killing to more people.
The violence came as Egypt commemorated the 2011 uprising that overthrew veteran strongman Hosni Mubarak, leading to three years of tumult that many hope Sisi’s election will end.