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A two horse race: Egypt's presidential elections

Ahram Online looks at the latest developments in Egypt's upcoming polls, as officials get ready to launch the campaigning process

Gamal Essam El-Din, Sunday 20 Apr 2014
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Hamdeen Sabbahi (Left) and former army chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi (Photo: Al-Ahram)
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The window for registration in Egypt's upcoming presidential polls will close at 2pm on Sunday.  A preliminary list of candidates will be announced on Monday, together with the number of endorsements each candidate has collected. Under Egypt's new constitution, each candidate must secure at least 25,000 endorsements, with at least 1,000 from different governorates.

Egypt's presidential polls, the first to be held after the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi last July, are scheduled to take place on 26-27 May.

As the deadline for registration approaches, the only candidates to have so far submitted their presidential bids are former defence minister Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and leading Nasserist figure Hamdeen Sabahi.

Other public figures such as the flamboyant lawyer Mortada Mansour and national television broadcaster Bothaina Kamel – both of whom had earlier announced they would register – have failed to meet the registration's requirements. Mansour, the newly-elected chairman of Zamalek sports club, said on Saturday that he had decided to withdraw and that he would instead support El-Sisi's campaign. As for Kamel, it was clear that she had not been able to collect the required number of endorsements.

Abdel-Aziz Ashri, chairman of the justice minister's technical office, said that around 600,000 endorsements have been registered across 27 governorates since the door for registration was first opened on 31 March.

On Saturday, Sabahi's campaign said it had been able to gather notarised recommendation forms from 31,000 citizens across 17 Egyptian governorates – 6,000 more than the 25,000 forms hopeful candidates are required to collect.

Officials in El-Sisi's campaign fielded a presidential bid on 14 April, with lawyer Mohamed Bahaa Abou Shuqqa announcing that although they had been able to collect more than 400,000 endorsements, they have decided to submit only 200,000 drawn from 27 governorates.

The Presidential Election Commission (PEC) – the five-member judicial body tasked with supervising Egypt's upcoming presidential polls – is scheduled to meet on Monday to announce the end of the election's first stage.

From 21 April until 1 May, PEC is scheduled to finalise other election procedures such as revising endorsements and ruling on petitions that can be filed against either candidate. PEC is also scheduled to announce a final list of candidates on 2 May and give the green light for election campaigns to kick off between 3 and 23 May.

As the battle lines of the polls are drawn, El-Sisi and Sabahi have begun unveiling parts of their electoral platforms. Abdallah El-Moghazi, a spokesman for El-Sisi's campaign, said that El-Sisi himself will announce his electoral programme.

"Once the election campaign officially kicks off on 3 May," El-Moghazi said, "El-Sisi himself will address the nation on his vision and platform for the future."

El-Sisi, whose campaign headquarters is located in east Cairo's upper-class Al-Tagammu district, has had meetings with several sectors of society in recent weeks to express his personal views about Egypt's political and economic problems.

Addressing a delegation of youth movements on 18 April, El-Sisi said it was high time for all Egyptians to join forces to build a better future for their country.

"As Egypt has really lagged behind the world in recent years, it has become clear that old and traditional means will never be enough or adequate to solve the country's problems," he said.

El-Sisi also said that he eagerly wants to see tight security all over Egypt.

"Restoring security and stability should be a priority in order for the economy to recover and in order for every citizen to feel safe," he said. He estimated that Egypt is in pressing need of LE3 to 4 trillion per year to achieve significant economic growth.

In political terms, El-Sisi told another delegation that "regardless of who will be the next president of Egypt, nobody can ever dare to bring the country back to the pre-25 January revolution's despotic practices."

Several groups have helped collect endorsements for El-Sisi's campaign. Topping the list is the Tamarod (Rebel) movement, which spearheaded the removal of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July of last year. Other factions include diehards of former president Hosni Mubarak's now defunct National Democratic Party (NDP). The families of Egypt's two late presidents, Anwar Sadat and Gamal Abdel-Nasser, have also announced their support for El-Sisi.

Sabahi's campaign announced on Saturday that it would mount a tough election campaign against El-Sisi. Sabahi argued that "the fact that El-Sisi swept the endorsements does not send an early signal that he will win the presidential election."

"Success in the presidential election battle depends on several other factors," he said.

According to Al-Ahram political analyst Emad Gad, "while most of the country's more traditional forces are in support of El-Sisi, the youth movements of the two revolutions of 25 January and 30 June have decided to rally around Sabahi."

Gad, however, notes that "most Nasserist and leftist forces which were supposed to support Sabahi have instead opted to endorse El-Sisi. These include old leftist traditional forces like the National Progressive Unionist party (commonly known as Al-Tagammu) and the Arab Nasserist Party," said Gad.

Within the same context, said Gad, traditional liberal forces such as the Wafd Party, Egypt's old political party, also announced that they would support El-Sisi, while some of the new post-25 January liberal forces like The Constitution Party (Al-Dostour), established by former UN diplomat Mohamed ElBaradie, are categorically in favour of Sabahi.

Sabahi has said on several occasions that he wants to be the Lula da Silva of Egypt – referring to Brazil's leftist president from 2002 to 2011.

Like Lula da Silva, who came from the working class, Sabahi said he wants to fight social inequality, rejuvenate the public sector, fight privatisation and defend the ideals of the 25 January and 30 June revolutions, particularly in terms of revoking the new protest law and fighting against the reinstatement of Mubarak's corrupt elite into political offices.

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Nehal Sagheer
29-05-2014 07:17pm
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SISI Elected what a Joke
30% Voter elected Murderer SISI as a president this is krishma of Western Style Democracy What a Joke For Today where is the champion of secular democracy???????????????
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10



Sherif Shehata
21-04-2014 09:29pm
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Hope
Dosen't matter who you are, everyone like to be a President but the key questions are, who can do better for Egypt and Egyptians? who has dialogue and agenda for Egypt's future? who can deal with Egypt's issues how,when and where? these are Egypt's Issues,1- Unemployment. 2-Curpuation and Tax Revenue.3- Security. 4-Agriculture and self -sufficient in food.5- Water,Power and energy.6-Education. 7-Health and safety. 8- Health care. 9- Traffic 10- Houses and benefit. 11- Business and economic activity. who can understand the meaning of Freedom and Justice. These are all the issues the President will be facing in the future,So who can deal with them? above all we need to stand up together for Egypt. All we need is to be honest and to do our jobs right. God save Egypt. God bless you all.
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9



junaid
21-04-2014 02:02pm
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DUMB AND DUMBER
and yes TERRORIST VS. BIGGEST TERRORIST!
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J.M.Jordan
21-04-2014 01:22pm
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Why are you judging before seeing results of the winner for 100 days?
Even the MB's candidate got his chance. Though to no avail, even a year in office didn't do for Egypt what it should have done. Why so impatient now even before the winner comes to rule. Ask yourself what you personally can do for your country to get it out of the economy and safety mess and just do it. Take a square positive look at things and act up to it. Special whishes can only come true once the country has recovered sufficiently.
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7



Jon
21-04-2014 09:38am
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Voting Sabahi worth a chance
Article 28 of the election law makes cheating a little harder: "The chairperson shall announce these results in front of candidates’ agents or their representatives present at the polling station .. .. Media and CSOs representatives authorized by the PEC to watch the elections and the counting process and announcement of results as described above, shall be allowed to be present .." When counting is centralized, and ballot boxes are moved from the local polling stations, there are many more opportunities for cheating. But in case of local counting, you would have to distribute voting quotas in advance to each local polling commission in order to cheat. This would easily leak out and be obvious to observers. The election law is not up to international standards regarding the composition of the local election commissions. They should consist also of representatives for the candidates. But those opposed to 30 new years of stagnation under military rule should still vote.
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6



azaza
21-04-2014 06:57am
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Why are Egyptians so pessimistic about elections
Very sad that every comment is so negative. Everyone has an Enemy. El Sisi talks to the pope. He is a bad man then. No terrorist on the ballot? Religious Muslims are bad then. How pessimistic. You CAN vote anyone you do not like out. BUT, you cannot force other people to do the same. Vote for the best available candidate IN YOUR OWN OPINION. Vote for the one you like and then ACCEPT the result, respect and cooperate with the new President, whoever he is. This is democracy. It is the power to choose and MORE Important, the civility to accept and cooperate with the result of the majority. It is about time we start to learn it. It is about time we start to practice it. It will take time but with the strong determination that Egyptians have shown so far, we WILL achieve democracy, sooner or later.
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5



Hesham Tawfik
21-04-2014 01:13am
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The race is over
Mr Alsisy is the best leader in Egyptian History,No other leader managed to achieve these records More than 20,000 political dissents(1232 medical workers,2574 engineers,124 scientist and university teachers,5342 Azhar students,3879 students, 704 ladies and 689 children) 21 were killed in Alsisy prison since july 3rd coup. About 6,000 were killed. Well done Mr SISY Go ahead to achieve more records, You are the most important man in Egypt now and in the future
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Allen
20-04-2014 11:53pm
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I must admit I like the smiling faces.. Hope win or lose they both will clean up Egypt together after the election.
Just keep the brotherhood terrorists on the run to oblivion from decent Egyptians lives. Good luck with the election who ever wins.
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3



Farook uk
20-04-2014 05:43pm
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Democracy
Egypt is a best democracy in the world.both horses are very democratics. This election on 1000 of peoples graves.
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Farhan
20-04-2014 07:12pm
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Best comment, We all know the result, this election is nothing but show off
Sisi meets with the pope but denies any right to muslim religious leaders to talk politics, no body can even talk against him openly. This is only west controlled internet which is giving us giving this oppertunity to talk about this. Even Bassem will not be able to talk about it on media while all government puppet media would continue their propaganda in support of Sisi and against opposition. This is nothing but giving dictator more powers using a fake democratic process.
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Allen
20-04-2014 05:05pm
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A vast improvement!!!!!!!!!!!
No more terrorists on the ticket.
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Farhan
20-04-2014 07:38pm
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No this time only terrorist is going to win, last time it was true election
Sisi killed thousands , Morsi never killed any body. Terrorist sisi can only kill his own unarmed population.
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