A file photo of Wafd Party leader Abdel-Sanad Yamama. Photo: El-Wafd Party
"Some believe that I will run in the upcoming presidential election just as a smokescreen to give a superficial appearance of competition, but this is completely untrue," said Yamama in a statement on Tuesday.
"In fact, I decided to join the presidential race out of complete conviction that presidential elections offer a golden opportunity for political parties to publicize their political and economic platforms among citizens," argued the veteran politician.
"The constitution gives political parties full rights to run in elections, so why should not we, as a major political party, seize this opportunity?"
Yamama insisted, however, that his decision to run in the upcoming presidential election does not mean that he is against Egypt's incumbent president Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.
"I really respect President El-Sisi, but the fact remains that we, as an old and prestigious party, should strongly compete in the upcoming presidential election regardless of any considerations," said the Wafd leader.
Yamama also rebuked his Wafdist colleagues who took his praise of El-Sisi to mean that “I only want to be a smokescreen candidate in the upcoming presidential election, [which] is completely untrue," said Yamama. "I will be a serious candidate in this election, reflecting the views of the Wafd Party, which is Egypt's longest-standing opposition party standing for liberal democracy and the peaceful circulation of power."
Yamama's statement was in response to Mounir Fakhri Abdel-Nour, a senior Wafdist official and a former industry minister, who tweeted that "it is a big mistake for the security apparatus to nominate a puppet like Yamama to run against President El-Sisi, as this will never convince local and international public opinion that Egypt is living under political multilateralism."
"This is by no means true, as the Wafd Party could never accept security forces using its leader to run simply as a puppet," answered Yamama, accusing Abdel-Nour of trying to force him not to run in the presidential election.
"It is a big honour for me to be Wafd's candidate in the presidential election, and I affirm that I am not coordinating with any security forces or any foreign organizations to run in this election. I am putting the interests of the Wafd Party and my country above any other considerations," said the Wafd chairman.
Yamama has put Abdel-Nour under investigation by a party disciplinary committee. "As Abdel-Nour's tweet is a grave insult against the party and its leader, he should be questioned by a disciplinary committee," he explained.
Mohamed Abdel-Alim, the Wafd Party’s parliamentary spokesperson, told Ahram Online that Yamama’s decision to run for president has created division within the party. Fouad Badrawi, a senior member of the party's Higher Council and a former MP, has also sought the nomination. Badrawi accused Yamama of declaring himself Wafd's official presidential candidate without the knowledge of most of the party’s leading officials.
"I hope that the party's Higher Council and the general assembly will meet soon to settle this dispute in a civilized way," said Abdel-Alim.
Article 142 of Egypt's constitution states that "candidates must receive the recommendation of at least 20 elected members of the House of Representatives, or endorsements from at least 25,000 citizens who have the right to vote, in at least 15 governorates, with a minimum of 1,000 endorsements from each governorate."
The Wafd Party currently holds 39 seats in the House of Representatives and 10 in the Senate.