The election platforms of Egypt’s two presidential candidates — President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi and Ghad Party leader Moussa Mustafa Moussa — were unveiled this week.
On 23 February the National Electoral Commission (NEC) confirmed that Al-Sisi and Moussa will be the only names on the ballot paper.
Adel Esmat, the official spokesman for Moussa’s campaign, said the Ghad Party’s election platform mainly focuses on improving economic conditions.
“The party upholds the ideals of the nationalist revolutions of 1919, 1952, 2011 and 2013,” said Esmat. “They all called for the preserving of national independence, national unity, social justice and human dignity.”
Moussa’s election platform will also uphold the basic principles of citizenship and democracy. “We reject religious rule,” said Esmat, “which leads to fomenting sectarian strife and political divisions. This means we oppose the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliates which fan the flames of extremism and sectarian strife in the Arab world”.
“Reforming religious discourse is also a key plank of our election platform. The government has yet to take serious steps towards reforming national education curricula and eradicating extremist and radical ideologies.”
“We are clear there must be a major drive to modernise curricula and reform religious schools and institutes, particularly those affiliated with Al-Azhar. They must be free of ultraconservative salafist and mediaeval ideologies.”
Speaking to Al-Ahram on 21 February Esmat said: “The Ghad Party is liberal and believes in the private sector, foreign investments and national capitalism. We will promote a privatisation programme which helps citizens become shareholders and turns loss-making companies into profitable businesses capable of generating revenues and creating new job opportunities.”
Moussa’s platform, published this week under the title “Making Egypt Better”, includes 14 items.
“In addition to backing privatisation we want to phase out subsidies which place an intolerable strain on the national economy,” said Esmat.
The platform also calls for a bank to be established to serve the financial needs of the physically-challenged. According to Esmat, the bank will also “help take care of street children, poor rural women and fight child labour”.
“The Ghad Party’s platform also calls for city council elections to be held as soon as possible. We are in favour of decentralising city councils and for governors and the heads of local cities and towns to be elected rather than appointed.”
Moussa is scheduled to address voters in a major speech on 23 March.
“Instead of touring governorates which is very costly I have decided to hold a big conference which I hope will be broadcast on TV,” said Moussa. “In the meantime rallies will be held in a number of governorates as part of our election campaign.
“President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi’s election platform will be similar to the one he offered in 2014,” Mohamed Bahaaeddin Abu Shoka, Al-Sisi’s spokesperson, said on 24 February, “and the four existing campaigns in support of President Al-Sisi will be merged into one”.
“Al-Sisi’s election campaign in 2014 had to face a great deal of scaremongering and outright lies. This year we will respond to false allegations strongly. We will also be more disciplined in terms of spending on billboards and public conferences and countering falsehoods and fabrications.”
“State officials will not be allowed to join the pro-Sisi campaigns, and foreign donations will not be accepted,” said Abu Shoka.
MP Salah Hassaballah, head of the Freedom Party and a member of Al-Sisi’s campaign team, confirmed to Al-Ahram Weekly that “President Al-Sisi’s election platform in 2014 will not be substantively different from that of 2018.”
“In 2014 President Al-Sisi promised to remove the Muslim Brotherhood from Egypt’s political life and he has succeeded in achieving this. In 2018 the focus will be on fighting the Brotherhood’s foreign campaigns which are backed by Qatari and Western media outlets.”
According to Hassaballah, the platform “also focuses on building more mega-development projects in Egypt”.
“We have seen the inauguration of a second Suez Canal, a new administrative capital is being built and a final agreement on the Dabaa nuclear reactor has been signed,” says Hassaballah. “National projects will continue under President Al-Sisi, including the reclamation of millions of feddans of arable land and establishing major industrial plants.”
“In his first term President Al-Sisi focused on opening up a national dialogue with young people. These youth conferences will continue to help young people actively participate in political life.”
“Fighting terrorism will also continue to be a fundamental plank of President Al-Sisi’s programme. Much of his popularity is due to his success in this respect,” said Hassaballah.
On Sunday President Al-Sisi appeared in military uniform for the inauguration of the East of the Canal Command Centre, which aims to boost the army’s capabilities in fighting terrorism in Sinai.
Al-Ahram political analyst Emad Gad told the Weekly that “inaugurating two giant military commands, one on the border with Libya and one in Sinai, shows clearly that fighting terrorism remains a major goal of President Al-Sisi’s administration.”
* This story was first published in Al-Ahram Weekly