Presidential hopeful Sabahi vows to defend public sector at rally in Mahalla

Ahram Online, Tuesday 6 May 2014

Hundreds chant pro-revolution slogans at election rally in Mahalla in support of presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahi

Egypt's presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahi watches his supporters from a podium during his campaign in Mahalla, 125 kilometers (about 77 miles) north of Cairo, Egypt, Monday, May 5, 2014 (Photo: AP)

Nasserist presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahi attended on Monday evening a mass election rally in the central Delta city of Mahalla, the textile capital of Egypt and one of the oldest hubs of workers' militancy in the country.

He vowed to fulfil the revolution's goals by developing the public sector, fighting for the rights of the martyrs' families and ending corruption.

“We will win because we are continuing the January 25 and June 30 revolutions. We will win because we want a just Egypt,” Sabahi told hundreds of chanting supporters who packed a local cinema.

“The youth have to know that we can rebuild the country. The solution is in our hands. We the people insist on a country that is based on justice and is free of discrimination.”
“In three weeks, Egypt will have a president that serves its people and is not served by them,” he added.

To cheers from supporters in a city where residents are struggling to hold on to public sector jobs in a troubled textile industry, Sabahi vowed to boost investment in the public sector which has been heavily privatised in the last 20 years.

Supporters of Egypt's presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahi raise posters of him during Sabahi's campaign in Mahalla, 125 kilometers (about 77 miles) north of Cairo, Egypt, Monday, May 5, 2014 (Photo: AP)

In order to tackle corruption, he said he would introduce a law to protect whistle-blowers who are willing to testify in court.

Backing the 59-year-old leftist for president, representatives of the Constitution Party and the Socialist Popular Alliance Party attended the rally and described Sabahi as the revolution's candidate.

Ahmed Bayoumi of the Constitution Party said “Our support for Sabahi does not come as support for him as such, but as support for the January 25 revolution that demanded a civil state in which the right of citizens to housing and a decent life [are guaranteed].”

“We support Sabahi because we believe in the 25 January and 30 June revolutions. We believe in a civil state -- not a military one. We are against repression and insulting any citizen. We want a free and just life where there is no difference between a Muslim and a Christian,” he added.

Bayoumi concluded that the party’s support for Sabahi also meant support for workers' rights.

Speaking four days after the international working class holiday, he told the crowd “[May day] remains a day to remember those who died for workers' rights, the rights of the poor and the wretched and against the monopoly of capitalism. Our support for Sabahi is support for the rights of workers.”

The Nile Delta city of Mahalla is known for its labour militancy. On 6 April, 2008, textile workers in the city held one of the first large anti-regime strikes during the 30-year reign of Hosni Mubarak and staged protests. For the first time, images of a tarnished, trampled poster of Hosni Mubarak circulated on the internet, signalling the beginning of the end for Egypt’s then-feared leader.

Hamdeen Sabahi is the sole contender against former army chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.

The presidential elections will take place on 26 and 27 May. 

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