Amr Moussa takes on turbulence in Upper Egypt in his presidential campaign

Dina Ezzat, Thursday 28 Apr 2011

An ‘in’ on Amr Moussa’s presidential campaign tells Ahram Online that he ignores security’s advice to avoid sectarian rife-ridden Qena insisting on starting in a Coptic Cathedral with a history of a bloody Christmas attack

Amr Mousa

Egypt presidential hopeful, Amr Moussa pays a visit to the Coptic Cathedral in Nag Hammadi in Upper Egypt that was subject to a bloody attack during the Coptic Christmas of 2010 that left eight worshippers and a Muslim security guard dead and initiated a deep sentiment of sectarian rift.

"As a presidential runner, Moussa perceives himself as an Egyptian who is willing to serve all Egyptian citizens, Copts and Muslims alike; those who support and those who oppose him equally," said a source from Moussa’s campaign to Ahram Online.

The source added that Moussa "firmly declined security’s advice to avoid Qena," whose recommendation was made after recent days of tense demonstrations against the assignment of a Coptic governor.

The message that Moussa is keen to deliver in Qena, the same source said, is precisely that "this is a moment of unity for all Egyptians to work for a better future that all Egyptians – with no exception – should benefit from."

Following the visit of the Nag Hammadi Cathedral Moussa will tour the city to meet with citizens and to attend the afternoon prayers at one of its mosques.

He will later go to other cities in the large governorate of Qena, the third stop of a presidential campaign that started Tuesday in Aswan and Wednesday in Luxor.

In Aswan and Luxor, Moussa visited the heads of leading families and tribes and held a public conference where he listened to the demands, aspirations and criticism of the public.

In Luxor, however, the public conference took a negative turn when representatives of the January 25 Youth Coalition expressed dismay over the presence of members of the defunct National Democratic Party that was chaired by toppled ex-president Hosni Mubarak.

"We did not issue invitations for participation in the conference and a presidential runner never shies away from meeting the crowds – whether it be those who support him and those who are against him," said the same source from Moussa’s presidential campaign.

The source added that the invitations were issued by the heads of the leading families of the city, who "thought they should invite all groups because, in the end, those are Egyptian citizens; that was their rationale."

The Luxor visit started off with a fuss when Moussa asked to change his hotel reservation as he was informed upon his arrival in the city that the hotel is owned by some of the tycoons of the previous ruling party, who are facing charges of corruption.

"These were not easy days, but, listen, this is a presidential campaign and it is naïve to expect presidential campaigning to be all easy," the same source added.

Tomorrow Moussa will visit Sohag, one of the most impoverished cities of Upper Egypt. The rest of the tour will take him to Assiut, Minya and Beni Suef.

This is Moussa’s second campaign tour, the first being to Tanta earlier this month.

On 15 May, Moussa will officially end his term as Arab League secretary-general.

Moussa is one of many presidential runners, but is one of the most prominent. The other front-runner is former chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed El-Baradei.

Since the end of his third term in office in 2009, El-Bradei has been calling for political change and an end to the Mubarak regime.

Other presidential candidates include Ayman Nour, the leader of Al-Ghad Party, Hamdeen Sabahi, the leader of Al-Karama Party and Judge Hisham Bastawisi. Former military men, Magdi Hatah and Mohamed Belal are also among the presidential runners.

No official date is offered yet by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces for the presidential elections although originally they were expected in September. Likewise, no date is set for the official nomination process.

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