Egyptian army chief Abdel Fattah El-Sisi announced Wednesday that he would resign and declared his candidacy in national elections that are expected later this year.
Defense Minister El-Sisi, 59, must leave the army to run forpresident. He made the announcement on national TV.
"These recent years of our nation's history have conclusively shown that no one can become president of Egypt against the will of the people or short of their support. Never can anyone force Egyptians to vote for a president they do not want.
"Therefore, I am here before you humbly stating my intention to run for the presidency of the Arab Republic of Egypt ... Only your support will grant me this great honor," he said.
In the wake of the announcement, the office of Interim President Adly Mansour said that he had promoted the chief of staff of Egypt's armed forces, Lt. Gen. Sedki Sobhi, to the rank of first lieutenant general.
The state-run Al-Ahram newspaper reported earlier that El-Sisi had met military leaders to tell them he was stepping down.
Quoting a military source, Al-Ahram said the meeting would determine a successor to the field marshal. He is expected to submit his resignation to Mansour at a Cabinet meeting on Thursday, Al-Ahram said.
El-Sisi deposed President Mohamed Morsy of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's first freely elected leader, last year following mass protests against the latter's rule.
The officer is popular among Egyptians who supported the army's decision to remove Morsy from power a year into his term -- seeing him as the kind of strong man needed to end the turmoil dogging Egypt since a popular uprising ended Hosni Mubarak's three decades of one-man rule in 2011.
But El-Sisi is reviled by the Islamist opposition, which sees him as the mastermind of a coup against an elected leader and the author of a fierce crackdown on dissent.
Egypt has suffered bloody internal strife since Morsy was overthrown.
On Wednesday, police clashed with protesters at Cairo University who were demonstrating against a court's decision to sentence 529 supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood to death. In a separate report, Al-Ahram quoted the health ministry as saying one person was killed and eight injured in the clashes.
Monday's court ruling drew widespread criticism from international human rights groups.