"I spoke in signs so that people don't get confused" amid much speculation, el-Sissi said. "I hope you all got the sign."
His call for unity reflected the daunting problems he would face if he becomes president. Morsi's Islamist supporters have been protesting for months demanding his reinstatement, though the protests have waned in the face of a fierce police crackdown that has killed an estimated 2,000 people and arrested thousands of members of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood. Also, Islamic militants have been waging a campaign of bombings and assassinations. The economy has been wrecked since the 2011 ouster of autocratic President Hosni Mubarak.
"Don't imagine that any one person can solve the problems in Egypt, regardless of who it is you select. No, it will be solved by all of us," he said. "Don't imagine that the problems accumulated for over 30 years, can be solved without us joining hands."
In an implicit call to Morsi supporters to end their protests, he said, "Maybe eight months (since Morsi's ouster) is a time to start to review and reconsider. ... Look around you to see if what is happening pleases God."
"Egyptians, you need to put your hands together to avert a real danger for Egypt," he said.
Over the past weeks, the 59-year-old U.S.-trained army chief has been increasingly acting in a presidential fashion, most notably a visit last month to Russia, where he secured the Kremlin's blessing for his likely presidential bid.
Last week, his wife made her first public appearance: Intisar el-Sissi was seated next to him during a ceremony honoring senior officers.
Posters of el-Sissi next to a lion are plastered on walls and hoisted on lampposts across much of the country. Songs praising the military and el-Sissi are played on radio and blare from coffee shops. Supporters often tout him as the new Gamal Abdel-Nasser, the legendary Arab nationalist who ruled in 1950s and 1960s.