Campaign gloves off

Gamal Essam El-Din , Tuesday 28 Nov 2023

As the countdown to the presidential poll begins, candidates are intensifying their campaigns, reports Gamal Essam El-Din

Campaign gloves off

 

Egyptian expats go to polls on 1-3 December to choose between incumbent President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi, head of the Wafd Party Abdel-Sanad Yamama, head of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party Farid Zahran, and the Republican People Party’s Hazem Omar. Voters at home cast their ballots on 10-12 December.

The National Election Authority (NEA), in charge of overseeing the polls, has said the four presidential candidates can campaign until 8 December. In the meantime, candidates are clambering to reach the public with their messages, attending rallies and giving interviews whenever the opportunity arises.

Incumbent President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi’s campaign held a press conference in North Sinai’s Rafah during which campaign manager Mahmoud Fawzi said development and construction across the peninsula would top President Al-Sisi’s agenda for the coming six years.

While more than LE600 billon has been allocated to develop and populate Sinai since President Al-Sisi came to office in 2014, Egypt had to fight a ferocious battle against terrorism before being national projects to develop Sinai.

“Many police and soldiers sacrificed their lives in the battle against terrorism and pave the way for the reconstruction of Sinai,” said Fawzi.

Last week, Al-Sisi underlined that Israeli attempts to force Palestinians in Gaza into Sinai was a red line.

“The president was clear in stressing that there will be a firm reaction against any scenario trying to resettle Palestinians in Sinai,” said Fawzi.

The pro-regime Mostaqbal Watan and Humat Watan parties have continued to hold public rallies in support of Al-Sisi and have been heavily involved in festooning streets in major cities with banners of Al-Sisi and the slogans “we will complete the dream” and “we are together with you.”

Mostaqbal Watan organised public rallies in Nasr City on 24 November and in Alexandria on 21 November. Fawzi told the Alexandrian rally that President Al-Sisi’s decision to contest the presidential elections came at the request of millions of citizens who want him to complete the development of Egypt.

If Al-Sisi wins, said Fawzi, he will focus on enhancing the private sector’s contribution to the economy to boost exports and reduce imports. He added that Al-Sisi’s election platform is particularly focused on reforming the education and health sectors.

This week, Farid Zahran toured the governorates of Giza, Aswan, and Gharbiya. In the Giza district of Atfeeh on 25 November, Zahran said he was determined to change the way people view the country’s president.  

“We do not want a dictator in power but a president who knows how maintain balanced relationships with all authorities,” said Zahran. “I am the opposition’s candidate and I believe in democracy and that one day Egyptians can change their president in a peaceful and democratic way.”

“If I win. I will effect a meaningful separation of powers and create a strong parliament.”

On 21 November, Zahran said in a TV interview that he will revise the 1979 Peace Treaty with Israel.

“Following Israel’s massacres in Gaza and conspiracies to resettle the Palestinians in Sinai, the Peace Treaty needs to be redrafted to guarantee Egypt’s national security,” said Zahran. He also said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should stand trial as a war criminal.

Wafd leader Abdel-Sanad Yamama held a public rally at Tanta University — the city was the birthplace of Saad Zaghloul and Mustafa Al-Nahhas, two of the party’s historic leaders — on 25 November.

Yamama said his election platform focuses on introducing sweeping constitutional reforms. He described constitutional amendments in 2019 as an assault against liberties and freedoms which had undermined Egypt’s legislative, constitutional and judicial authorities.

“I am a man on a mission to save Egypt and to take it in the direction of economic prosperity and democracy,” he said.

Republican People’s party presidential candidate Hazem Omar has launched a door knocking campaign in several governorates. In a TV interview on Monday, Hazem said that he would implement a three-year reform programme that would raise growth rates, cut external debt and boost exports by “changing the economy into a productive and export-oriented one focused on agricultural and industrial projects”.

Omar’s goal is to increase export revenues to cover 80 per cent of Egypt’s foreign currency needs.

Omar expressed admiration of the way Brazil’s President Lula da Silva had improved education and health services for poor Brazilians. When asked how he would handle the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam file, he responded that nothing would be off the table should Ethiopia’s future filling of the dam constitute a threat to Egypt’s water security.


* A version of this article appears in print in the 30 November, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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