National Dialogue urges freedom of campaigning, equal media time for presidential candidates

Amr Kandil , Tuesday 19 Sep 2023

Egypt’s National Dialogue’s Board of Trustees urged state bodies to maintain their neutrality during the upcoming presidential elections and safeguard candidates’ right to campaign freely.

 Egyptian National Dialogue
File Photo: The Egyptian National Dialogue s political axis held in Cairo. Photo courtesy of the official Facebook Page of the National Dialogue


In a statement on Tuesday, the board of trustees emphasized that all presidential candidates must be able to campaign, seek endorsements, and reach voters freely, as well as receive equal time in media coverage.

The dialogue’s board stressed the need for state apparatuses and institutions to maintain their neutrality toward candidates in a way that ensures they have equal opportunities according to the constitution.

‘Important entitlement’

The dialogue described the upcoming presidential elections as an “important entitlement,” calling on political forces not to underestimate it.

“The board urges all influential forces in the Egyptian political life, whether supportive [of state’s policies], oppositional or independent to consider the upcoming presidential elections as a significant opportunity to strengthen the path of the modern civil democratic state of law,” the statement said.

The trustee board asserted that the upcoming election is not just an “event of usual importance.”

In this regard, the board called for encouraging citizens inside the country and abroad to participate as “the ultimate goal of any political process.”

Significant local and international attention will be paid to these elections, the statement added.

The board urged the state to raise awareness about the electoral process in cooperation with civil society organizations, syndicates, and media.

Also, the board highlighted the need to broaden the participation of people with special needs in the upcoming elections.

The National Election Authority (NEA) has pledged to announce the elections timetable soon.

The NEA is scheduled to hold a press conference at 2pm on Wednesday at the Cairo International Convention Centre in Nasr City to brief the public on the authorities' electoral preparations.

Incumbent President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, who was first elected in 2014 and re-elected in 2018, is nearing the end of his current term in 2024. He has the option to run for an additional six-year term until 2030, based on constitutional amendments ratified in 2019.

To date, five political figures have expressed their plans to compete in the upcoming elections, including Abdel-Sanad Yamama, head of the Wafd Party; Fouad Badrawi, a former MP and member of the Wafd Party's Higher Council; Hazem Omar, head of the People's Republican Party; Ahmed El-Fadaly, chairman of the Democratic Peace Party; and Ahmed Tantawi, a former MP known for his opposition to El-Sisi’s policies.

Supporting political rights

In the statement, the dialogue’s board laid out a number of essential principles for managing “multi-candidate and competitive” elections and completing Egypt’s democratic transition.

The first of these principles is the necessity of supporting political rights, the dialogue said.

“A vibrant political life in Egypt has become a strong demand which can be achieved without any risk after the state and society succeeded in completely eliminating the threat of terrorism, other forms of extremism, violence and incitement,” said the statement.

The state should support vibrant political rights, especially by reviewing the situation of prisoners, pretrial detainees, persons banned from traveling while not convicted of a crime and those accused of inciting or using violence, the statement noted.

The board also highlighted the importance of preventing pretrial detention becoming a punishment that is imposed prior to a judicial ruling.

Also, the board called for supporting political parties’ freedom of work and movement so that citizens are encouraged to join them.

The board urged further freedom for newspapers and media while paying respect to the constitution, law, and professional practices.

Furthermore, the board called for amending election laws to ensure fair and balanced representation of all societal forces.

Trust building

Another principle is the need to build trust after the presidential elections, said the statement.

As such, all political and societal forces should fully commit to denouncing terrorism and extremism.

The board called on the state to promote political education of citizens and support the right to civil and union organizing.

They said all political and societal forces should agree that economic reform should aim to improve standards of living, ensure a decent life, and achieve social justice for Egyptians.

Moreover, the board urged the rationalization of public spending without disrupting the state’s plans and projects.

The board also called for encouraging local production and exports in order to strenthen the Egyptian pound, and thus support the standard of living of all citizens.

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