Terrorism, justice on top of Sabahi's electoral programme

Passant Darwish and Ahram Online, Wednesday 30 Apr 2014

Presidential hopeful says his platform is not 'too ambitious' but rather a 'right' for all Egyptians, who have sacrificed but received nothing

Hamdeen Sabahi
Presidential hopeful Hamdeen Sabahi (Photo: Reuters)

Presidential hopeful Hamdeen Sabahi presented his electoral programme in a press conference on Wednesday in which he said he would run under the slogan of "social justice, democracy and national independence" in order to "achieve Egypt's future hopes and rebuild it from the beginning."

"There are those who would say that the electoral programme is too ambitious or too hopeful, but we see it as a right for a nation which has made sacrifices and has not yet reaped their benefits," Sabahi declared.

"We ask Egyptians to stand by their legitimate dreams from which they have been deprived by authoritarian rulers," the Nasserist figure added.

Sabahi's plan consists of seven aspects – fighting terrorism, implementing transitional justice, increasing Egypt's crops and farmers' incomes and improving healthcare and education.

Putting the plans into action will be a "group effort" that utilises "the demands of the people chanting in Egypt's squares," he said.

Along with leaders from Sabahi's campaign and the Karama Party, which he founded, Wednesday's conference was also attended by Hala Shukralla, head of the Constitution Party, along with other figures from her party and the Socialist Popular Alliance.

After giving the introductory speech, Sabahi then stepped back and let some of his campaign advisors highlight each aspect of his platform.

The fight against terrorism

Amr Salah, a leading figure in Sabahi's campaign, presented Sabahi's "National Counter-Terrorism Strategy", which includes fighting terrorism by abolishing its root causes – poverty and unemployment – which Salah said "make youth more vulnerable to being recruited by terrorist organisations."

Other measures include state efforts to promote balanced religious speech as well as arts and culture.

Further plans involve stepping up the interior ministry's information capacities, stopping the domestic and international financing of terrorist organisations in Egypt and supporting Muslim minorities across the world in order to combat international terrorism.

Transitional justice

Salah Gaber, father of slain revolutionary figure Gaber Salah, commonly known as Jika, spoke at Sabahi's conference on the candidate's plans for justice.

"The first thing that God ordered was justice, and to me, justice means punishing all those who have killed or committed crimes, whether they are wearing the uniform of the police, army or Muslim Brotherhood," Gaber said.

Jika, a 16-year-old member of the April 6 Youth Movement, died from gunshot wounds to the head and chest during protests held in November 2012 to mark the first anniversary of violent clashes on Mohamed Mahmoud Street in central Cairo a year earlier.

Gika's father, Gaber – who helped draft Sabahi's plan on transitional justice – said that there were laws in Egypt but were only enforced against the poor.

"There are others who have directed bullets towards the children of this nation aside from the Brotherhood," Gaber said, adding that he doesn't justify the Brotherhood's current campaign of terror.

The right to food, the Egyptian farmer

Zakaria El-Haddad, a professor of agricultural economy, said that Egypt imports 50 percent of its food, while the other 50 percent that is locally produced is contaminated.

Sabahi's plan, according to El-Haddad, includes stopping drainage water and factory waste from passing into the Nile. The waste water will be purified and then used to plant 100,000 feddans of trees in the deserts of several Egyptian governorates.

The trees will be cultivated for timber, which Egypt imports in large quantities, according to El-Haddad.

Sabahi's agriculture plan will also double farmers' income in four years and produce 65 percent of the grain Egyptians use, as opposed to importing it.


Former health minister Amr Helmy introduced Sabahi's healthcare plan.

"All people have an equal right to medical care," said Helmy, who served as health minister in 2011 after the ouster of Hosni Mubarak.

Accordingly, Helmy said that Sabahi's plan includes a "social healthcare programme that does not distinguish between social classes and education levels."

Helmy declared that Egypt's deteriorating healthcare sector suffers from bad doctors, 83 percent of which perform their jobs poorly, and from insufficient technology in hospitals, with 17 percent of them ill-equipped.

Sabahi's plan will introduce training and licensing programmes to assess doctors throughout their careers and not only once after they graduate, as is now the case.

Illegal move

Following the press conference, Egypt's Presidential Elections Committee (PEC) said that Sabahi had broken election rules by announcing his campaign prematurely.

Abdel-Aziz Salman, the PEC's secretary-general, said that unveiling electoral programmes at this time was unlawful, as official campaigning was scheduled to start on 3 May, according to the commission's announced rules.

"The committee will investigate the details of the violation and take necessary legal measures against those related to it, either the conference organisers or media outlets that broadcast it," Salman told Al-Ahram's Arabic news website.

Earlier this week, the PEC announced that Sabahi and former army chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi are Egypt's final contenders for the 2014 presidential race. No other candidate officially applied to run in the elections.

El-Sisi has yet to present his campaign.

The elections will be held on 26-27 May, with voting centres open from 9 am to 9 pm.

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