Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is seen during a news conference in Cairo on May 22, 2013. File picture: Reuters

Cairo - Egyptian army chief Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was meeting military leaders on Wednesday to tell them he was resigning as defence minister to run for the presidency, the state-run Al-Ahram newspaper reported on its website.

Quoting a military source, Al-Ahram said Sisi was expected to announce the decision in a statement to be broadcast.

The army deposed President Mohamed Morsi last year after mass protests against his rule and Sisi is widely expected to win the election. He must resign as defence minister and from the army to run.

Sisi, 59, is popular among Egyptians who supported the army's decision to remove Morsi from power one year into his term. But he is reviled by the Islamist opposition which sees him as the mastermind of a coup against an elected leader and the author of a crackdown on dissent.

The meeting of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces began “a short while ago”, Al-Ahram reported. Sisi had called the meeting to inform the council of “his resignation as defence minister, paving the way for the announcement of his candidacy for the presidential elections”.

The authorities have yet to set a date for the presidential election. Leftist politician Hamdeen Sabahi, who came third in the 2012 election, is so far the only candidate to have stated his intention to run.

General Sedki Sobhi, who holds the post of chief of staff, is expected to replace Sisi as army chief and defence minister. - Reuters