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Apr 19, 9:32 AM EDT

Egypt's el-Sissi visits Coptic pope before Easter

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CAIRO (AP) -- Egypt's former military chief and presidential front-runner has visited the Coptic pope ahead of Orthodox Easter, making his first public appearance since he formally made his bid for the presidency.

As military chief, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi removed Egypt's first democratically elected president, Islamist Mohammed Morsi, last summer after a wave of popular protests demanding he steps down. Pope Tawadros backed the military's overthrow.

Saturday's visit by el-Sissi to the St. Mark's Cathedral, seat of the Coptic Orthodox pope, is his first public appearance since he formalized his bid this week. According to a statement, el-Sissi told Pope Tawadros that Christians and Muslims will remain united.

El-Sissi, riding a wave of widespread support for the military after Morsi's ouster, is widely expected to win the coming May presidential election.

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