CAIRO, March 26 (Xinhua) -- Egypt's army chief Abdel Fattah al- Sisi on Wednesday announced he would quit the military and run for president in the forthcoming election, vowing to fight for an Egypt "free of terrorism."
"Today, I stand before you for the last time in the military uniform, Sisi said in a televised statement, wearing his field marshal's uniform.
"I decided to end my service as a military chief and defense minister," he added.
Sisi, who was appointed by ousted President Mohamed Morsi as defense minister and the army leader, overthrew the Islamist president on July 3 in response to the nationwide protests against Morsi's one-year turbulent rule.
Since then, Sisi has enjoyed a surge in popularity among the Egyptians.
Parliamentary elections were supposed to be held ahead of the presidential race according to the military-backed transitional roadmap. However, Adli Mansour, who was installed interim president by the army, said late January that presidential polls would come first, which paved the way for Sisi's presidential bid.
Born in Cairo in November 1954, Sisi whose father was a furniture maker grew up in the Gamaleya neighborhood.
After he graduated from the Egyptian Military Academy in 1977, Sisi joined the military and served in the mechanized infantry with a diploma in military science.
He went to Britain and studied in the Joint Services Command and Staff College in 1992. In 2006, he received a master degree at the U.S. Army War College in the state of Pennsylvania.
He served as a military attache in Saudi Arabia when Hosni Mubarak was president, and then became chief of the commander of the northern military zone in 2008.
He was appointed as head of the military intelligence in February 2011, becoming one of the youngest members in the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.
He replaced Hussein Tantawi as defense minister and the army chief in August 2012.
In July 2013, Sisi toppled Mohamed Morsi, Egypt's first elected president, after mass protests against Morsi's year-long rule turned violent.
The military's harsh crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood added to Sisi's popularity as the people need a strongman to put the unrest-hit country back on track.