Egypt's two presidential contenders set to launch campaigns on Saturday

Gamal Essam El-Din , Friday 2 May 2014

Campaigning kicks off in preparation for voting later this month, as Egypt prepares to elect its second president in three years

Sabbahi and Sisi
Egypt's two presidential contenders Sabbahi and Sisi

Egypt’s two presidential candidates – ex-army chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and leftist politician Hamdeen Sabahi – are scheduled to launch their election campaigns on Saturday.

This comes after the Presidential Elections Commission (PEC) – the judicial body in charge of overseeing the polls – announced on Friday that El-Sisi and Sabahi had been officially listed as the only two contenders in Egypt's 2014 presidential elections.

In a statement published by Al-Ahram and Al-Akhbar newspapers on 2 May, Anwar El-Assi, the PEC's head and first deputy of the High Constitutional Court, announced that El-Sisi and Sabahi were the only ones who had "secured the necessary amount of endorsements to stand in the polls, not to mention that no objections or appeals had been filed against either of them."

El-Sisi secured 188,930 endorsements, while Sabahi garnered 31,555.

The PEC's decision to endorse El-Sisi and Sabahi as the country's two presidential candidates comes despite the commission having accused them both of violating the stated election rules.

Sabahi held a press conference on Thursday to announce his electoral platform, two days before the campaign officially kicks off on 3 May. El-Sisi's supporters have already swamped Cairo and other major cities with huge posters of him, also a violation, El-Assi said.

The PEC has almost granted the candidates their campaigning and voting symbols – El-Sisi a star and Sabahi an eagle.

The PEC's spokesman Abdel-Aziz Salman announced that a committee including representatives from the ministries of religious endowments, media and education, as well as the police’s general investigation department and the Egyptian Anti-Corruption Agency, would monitor campaign policies.

A Central Auditing Agency (CAA) committee will oversee each candidate's campaign spending. The presidential elections law states that campaign spending in the first round must not exceed LE20 million, with a ceiling of LE5 million in the case of a run-off.

Salman also said that the voting, scheduled to take place on 26-27 May nationwide, would be scheduled soon for Egyptians living abroad.

El-Sisi – Egypt’s former defence minister who led the removal of president Mohamed Morsi last July – is expected to deliver a speech on his electoral platform and vision for the future.

Senior members of his campaign say he will not read from a pre-written document.

"It will be a down-to-earth speech like the one he delivered at the end of last March, when he decided to step down as army chief," said Abdallah El-Moghazi, a spokesman for El-Sisi’s campaign.

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