Sabbahi urges consensus on revolutionary presidential contender

Ahram Online , Sunday 22 Dec 2013

Leftist leader and former presidential hopeful Hamdeen Sabbahi, who lost 2012 elections to toppled Islamist president Morsi, refutes claims of his backing Army Chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi as presidential candidate

Hamdeen Sabahi
Leftist leader Hamdeen Sabahi (Photo: Reuters)

Egypt's leading left-wing politician Hamdeen Sabbahi reiterated in a Saturday statement his intention to run for the upcoming presidential polls, asserting the need for agreement over a revolutionary candidate.

Sabbahi, backed by the Nasserist led Popular Current movement, called for a serious national dialogue between the country's political forces aiming to "reach consensus on a platform expressing the [Egyptian] revolution's demands, a team to implement them and a presidential candidate," read the statement.

The veteran Nasserist leader, who came third in last year's presidential elections won by toppled president Mohamed Morsi, refuted claims attributed to him concerning his support of Army Chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi as presidential contender.

Sabahi said he shared the general's own stance, who had repeatedly claimed he did not seek power, arguing that Egypt's Defense Minister El-Sisi should concentrate on his military role rather than run for president. 

El-Sisi – whose critics perceive as the country's de facto ruler – led in July the ouster of Morsi, the man who had appointed him, following mass nationwide protests against the Islamist ruler's troubled year in power.

The general has since accrued such popularity, with his supporters and numerous politicians calling on him to stand for the presidency, that it became widely speculated he would comfortably win if he ran for the post.

The army chief has sent mixed signs in media interviews on his intention to run; initially – and recurrently – expressing he does not seek power and more recently holding the possibility open.

Maintaining an equivocal stance, the former presidential hopeful said on Saturday that his support of El-Sisi's potential presidential bid – should the latter revise his earlier convictions – depends upon running candidates, their manifestos and political supporters.

Sabahi, the only politician defeated in last year's elections to declare his candidacy in the upcoming poll, stressed his readiness to back whichever candidate gains consensus from the Egyptian revolutionary camp, or take the role upon himself, added the statement.

"These [candidates] do not include representatives of the [former president Hosni] Mubarak regime nor the [Muslim] Brotherhood."

Sabahi will meet Egypt's Interim President Adly Mansour on Sunday, in the second of a series of national dialogue sessions on the country's transitional roadmap adopted following Morsi's ouster.

The transitional plan envisages an amended constitution to be passed mid-January, with parliamentary elections and a presidential vote to follow by mid-2014.

The first session, in which the country's head of state met representatives of political parties, youth movements and civil society groups, convened on Thursday.

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