Egypt's April 6 Youth Movement has announced it will boycott the upcoming presidential elections, describing the process as "a farce" during a press conference on Wednesday.
"After nearly five months of discussion and following all that's happened in the political scene, we held an internal vote with our members regarding our final decision and our members voted to boycott these farcical elections," the movement said in a statement read during the press conference.
Now banned by interim authorities, the movement was a vital mobilising force behind the 25 January 2011 revolution which unseated longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak.
The statement slammed the commanders of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), accusing them of leading a counter-revolution against the 2011 revolution and using "the revolutionary wave of 30 June" to bring military rule back to Egypt – in reference to the 2013 protests that led to the ouster of president Mohamed Morsi, which the movement described as a coup.
"The SCAF generals led the counter-revolution perfectly, whether through arbitrary murders or arbitrary arrests during the period, unleashing in the media those who call the 25 January revolution a defeat and arresting revolutionaries as well suspending revolutionary activities," the statement said.
"Just like the Muslim Brotherhood took advantage of 25 January and used it to rule unwisely, these SCAF generals took advantage of the revolutionary wave of 30 June," the statement continued, adding that the military should not have interfered in politics or fielded "a presidential candidate" in the elections "to protect its interests" – a reference to former army chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, who has received the SCAF's blessing to run for the presidency.
"We remember that the commanders of the armed forces promised that they would not interfere in politics and would return to the barracks after 30 June, but that promise was broken and we found the field marshal [El-Sisi] running for president," the statement said.
Using strong language, the revolutionary youth movement criticised El-Sisi, claiming that the SCAF created his persona through a false sense of popularity and heroism when the former defence minister found himself unable to fully end the spate of terrorist attacks in Egypt that peaked after Morsi's ouster.
"We've got a candidate who does not meet the public or even have a programme, yet all the state's institutions are standing with him," the movement said.
The current coordinator of the April 6 Youth Movement also spoke at the press conference:
"The transitional period is ending correctly by crowning the military institution's candidate as the real ruler of Egypt. We've moved from bad to worse to worst since the start of the year, whether through street clashes, the protest law, the arrest of activists, the 25 January revolution anniversary clashes – and the arbitrary arrests that took place that day – and then the banning of April 6 Youth Movement as a political movement," he said.
"Today we are facing an event that has confirmed all our fears and warnings: military rule is back in a clear, direct way. We warned of its return as early as 1 July 2013," Ali added.
The movement also hinted that it would continue its peaceful struggle against dictatorship and that it has not called on anyone to boycott or participate in elections, leaving the choice up to the public.
Even though the movement will be boycotting the presidential polls, it still extended its respect to the field marshal's only rival, long-time Nasserist politician Hamdeen Sabahi.
Last week, one of the group's offshoots, the April 6 Democratic Front, said it remained undecided on whether or not to boycott the electoral race, adding that it planned to launch "Against You" – a campaign against El-Sisi’s presidential candidacy, which the revolutionary movement accuses of embodying the return of the “repressive regime" of Mubarak.
On 28 April, an Egyptian court banned the April 6 Youth Movement, accusing the group of defaming the country and colluding with foreign parties.
The group has been vocally critical of the interim authorities, which have arrested thousands in a vigorous crackdown that first targeted only Islamists but which has recently jailed dozens of secular activists as well.
Nine members of April 6 are currently in jail for illegal protesting, including founding member Ahmed Maher and leading figure Mohamed Adel.
Egypt’s second presidential race since Mubarak’s ouster will take place on 26-27 May, with only El-Sisi and Sabahi facing off.