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Egyptian presidential contenders hit campaign trail

With Egypt's first post-Mubarak presidential poll slated for May, candidates criss-cross the country to promote their campaigns and lay out their respective political platforms

Ahram Online , Friday 9 Mar 2012
Egyptian potential presidential candidate, Hamdeen Sabahi (L), meets with people during his presidential campaign tour in the "Martyrs" underground metro station in Cairo March 7, 2012. (Photo: Reuters)
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Would-be presidential contenders on Friday promoted their electoral campaigns throughout the country ahead of Egypt's first post-Mubarak presidential polls, which have been slated for May. Candidates also spoke out about local socio-political developments, laying out their respective positions on issues of concern to the public.  

On Thursday, Egypt's Higher Presidential Elections Committee (HPEC) announced that the official registration period for presidential candidacies would begin on Saturday, 10 March, at 9am. It will end at 2pm on 8 April, the committee said.

During a visit to the Sokar Al-Hawamdeya Company, one of Egypt's largest state-owned sugar factories, presidential hopeful Hamdeen Sabahi said the fight against poverty represented his "first priority."

At a subsequent visit to a local church, Sabahi, a Nasserist, asserted that it was the responsibility of Egypt's next president to encourage Egypt's Muslim and Coptic communities to jointly contribute to an "Egyptian renaissance." 

He also called for the establishment of a semi-presidential political system based on a balance of power between Egypt's legislative and executive authorities. Sabahi also recommended a "just exit" for Egypt's ruling military council, given the council's role in safeguarding the country's national security.

Sabahi went on to describe the recent decision by Egyptian authorities to allow a handful of foreign nationals – indicted in Egypt's ongoing NGO case – to flee the country as "humiliating," calling for the creation of an independent judiciary.

During a visit to Egypt's Red Sea governorate, meanwhile, presidential contender and former Mubarak foreign minister Amr Moussa announced plans to collect 30,000 citizens' signatures – along with those of sitting MPs – to secure the legality of his presidential bid.

Moussa added that he would submit his official nomination papers to the HPEC within the coming two days.

Meanwhile, Mohamed Selim El-Awa, another presidential hopeful, said that his rivals were spreading rumours that he was a Shiite Muslim. At a Thursday conference in the Sohag governorate El-Awa rejected the claims.

"We have many ideological disagreements with the Shiites, and I oppose Shiite expansionism in Sunni-Muslim majority states," the Islamist candidate said.

He went on to express satisfaction at the large number of presidential candidates, praising the "growing political awareness" on the part of the Egyptian public.

An electoral conference in the Sharqiya governorate held by Ahmed Shafik, Egypt's last Mubarak-appointed prime minster, witnessed clashes between his supporters and opponents. The clashes were reportedly triggered by the surprise attendance of the event by Ahmed Abd El-Dayem and Mohamed Abu El-Magd, two former members of Mubarak's now-defunct National Democratic Party. 

The electoral campaign of the liberal Islamist Abd El-Moneim Aboul-Fotouh's issued a statement on Friday denouncing the HPEC's decision to ban electoral campaigning until 30 April, describing the decision as "vague and lacking transparency." The statement went on to accuse the elections committee of hindering candidates' electoral campaigns, since the decision would leave only twenty days for campaigners to promote their respective electoral platforms.

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