Between 26 and 28 March 59 million registered voters are eligible to cast a ballot and help select Egypt’s next president. They can choose between two candidates — the incumbent Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi who is seeking a second four-year term, and Ghad Party head Moussa Mostafa Moussa
Abdel-Fattah Said Hussein Al-Sisi was born on 19 November 1954 in Cairo. He grew up in the Gammaliya district, near the Al-Azhar Mosque, in a quarter where Muslims, Jews and Christians resided.
He later recalled how, during his childhood, he heard church bells and watched Jews flock to the synagogue unhindered.
Al-Sisi enrolled in the Egyptian Military Academy. After graduating in 1977 he held various command positions in the Egyptian Armed Forces and served as Egypt’s military attaché in the Saudi Arabian capital, Riyadh. In 1987 he attended the Egyptian Command and Staff College.
In 1992 Al-Sisi attended a training course at the UK Joint Services Command and Staff College at Watchfield in Oxfordshire. In 2006 he attended a course at the United States Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
He subsequently served as a mechanised infantry commander and then as director of military intelligence.
At 57 he was the youngest member of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) which ruled the country after Hosni Mubarak resigned in 2011.
Mohamed Morsi appointed Al-Sisi as minister of defence on 12 August 2012, replacing Mubarak’s long serving minister Hussein Tantawi.
On 1 July 2013, after two days of nationwide demonstrations, Al-Sisi delivered a speech giving the government 48 hours to meet the demands of the people — early elections among them. Two days later Morsi was removed from power.
Dissolving the 2012 constitution, Al-Sisi, along with leading opposition and religious figures, proposed a new political roadmap which included the drafting of a new constitution and fresh parliamentary and presidential elections.
Morsi was replaced by interim president Adli Mansour who appointed a new cabinet.
The interim government cracked down on the Muslim Brotherhood and its Islamist supporters in the months that followed. In the course of the following year Al-Sisi was named deputy prime minister and promoted to the rank of field marshal.
On 26 March 2014, in response to calls from supporters to run for the presidency, Al-Sisi resigned his military commission and announced he would stand in the 2014 presidential election.
There was one other candidate, Hamdeen Sabahi, on the ballot paper. Turnout reached 47 per cent and Al-Sisi won 97 per cent of the votes. He was sworn into office on 8 June 2014.
During his first term he embarked on the economic reforms his predecessors had avoided for years. Subsidies were cut, new taxes introduced and the pound was floated. His term also saw massive spending on infrastructure and other mega projects
In a televised interview on Tuesday Al-Sisi reacted to a short film which included interviews with members of the public complaining about the economic and other difficulties they face in their day to day lives.
Talking to his host, director Sandra Nashaat Al-Sisi listed policy initiatives, including social housing projects, overhauling the supply of subsidized food through ration cards and combating hepatitis C, that have improved people’s lives.
He also said criticisms of the increased economic role being played by the army were unfounded, claiming it does not exceed 2 to 3 per cent of GDP.
The army’s intervention in markets was marginal, he said, and undertaken only to stabilise the prices of necessary commodities or manage infrastructure projects to guarantee they are complete in the shortest possible time.
Following a series of Islamist-led attacks on military and police in Sinai and Coptic targets in Cairo and Alexandria Al-Sisi launched Comprehensive Operation Sinai 2018 to combat terrorists nationwide.
Moussa Mostafa Moussa
Moussa Mostafa Moussa was born on 13 July 1952 to a well-to-do family. His father was an active leader in the Wafd Party.
Moussa began his studies in Egypt but, acting on his father’s advice, completed his education in France.
He has a bachelor degree in architecture from France and a masters from École Nationale Supérieure D’architecture de Versailles, Paris.
Moussa has long been interested in politics. A member of the youth wing of the New Wafd Party, he later joined the party proper.
In 2005 he joined the Ghad Party as vice chairman. When party head Ayman Nour was sentenced to five years in prison the Ghad split into two factions, one led by Moussa and the other by Gamila Ismail, Ayman Nour’s former wife.
Both used the party’s name and symbols, provoking a legal dispute that was resolved in May 2011 in favour of the Moussa faction.
Moussa unsuccessfully ran for parliament in the 2010 election, standing in Giza.
He was a strong supporter of President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi and in 2014 launched a campaign appealing for Al-Sisi to nominate himself as a presidential candidate.
In 2017 he set up a campaign to support Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi in the 2018 presidential poll. Until 20 January 2018, when he announced his intention to run for office himself, he was engaged in collecting endorsements for Al-Sisi.
Moussa’s decision to stand came after four presidential hopefuls — lawyer Khaled Ali, former MP Mohamed Anwar Al-Sadat, former prime minister Ahmed Shafik and Zamalek Club head Mortada Mansour — withdrew from the race.
Two other possible candidates — former military chief of staff Sami Anan and Colonel Ahmed Konsowa — were arrested after announcing their intention to stand.
Moussa collected the endorsements of 20 elected parliament members. (Under Article 142 of the constitution presidential candidates must secure the recommendation of at least 20 elected MPs or 25,000 eligible voters drawn from a minimum of 15 governorates, with at least 1,000 recommendations per governorate.)
Moussa submitted his candidate papers 15 minutes before the deadline closed.
*This story was first published in Al-Ahram Weekly