Political groups react to SCAF's El-Sisi statement

Zeinab El Gundy , Wednesday 29 Jan 2014

Political groups gave mixed reactions to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces decision to allow El-Sisi to run for president

Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi
Egypt's Defence Minister Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi (Photo: Reuters)

Political groups have given mixed reactions to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) giving Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi the green light to run for the presidency. 

Some groups like the Egyptian Social Democratic Party (SDP), the Socialist Popular Alliance Party and the Salafist Nour Party declined to endorse any candidate while the Free Egyptians Party and Tamarod welcomed El-Sisi's candidacy. The Popular Current, the Way of the Revolution Front, the Strong Egypt Party and the April 6th movement rejected the military allowing El-Sisi to run.

"We are waiting to see the presidential candidates' platforms to compare them to find the best platform representing the revolution socially and economically,” general secretary of the SDP Ahmed Fawzy told Al Ahram Arabic on Monday. “Until now there are no presidential candidates officially; Field Marshal El-Sisi's presidential candidacy concerns him as an Egyptian citizen only.” 

Fawzy denied that the SDP was going to support El-Sisi in the presidential elections, saying the party had not reached a decision.

He also said he hoped the state and its institutions would not be biased in favor of El-Sisi, which he said would violate “elections standards, fairness, equal competition and democracy based on equal opportunities.”

Shehab Wagih, official spokesperson of Free Egyptians Party, said his party will also announce its endorsement later, but many party members support El-Sisi due to his “huge popularity.” 

"We see Field Marshal El-Sisi as an independent, unbiased presidential candidate that is not affiliated to a certain political group, and this what we want. We want a president of all Egyptians and not only to a president to his people and group, to rebuild Egypt and its economy," Wagih said.

The leader of the Socialist Popular Alliance Party, Abdel-Ghaffer Shukr, said El-Sisi’s promotion to the rank of field marshal cleared the path for the military chief to run, but the party would endorse a candidate it views as one “that enjoys credibility and integrity based upon his previous position and presents a revolutionary platform capable of achieving the goals of the January 25 Revolution.”

will endorse the candidate , regardless of who this candidate is," Shukr told Al-Ahram Arabic news website.

Like the SDP and Socialist Popular Alliance Party, the Salafist Nour Party said it would endorse a candidate, emphasizing that El-Sisi still needs to resign from his position as minister of defense to run as a civilian candidate.

Meanwhile, the Tamarod (Rebel) movement that played a vital role in the 30 June protests and ouster of president Mohamed Morsi praised El-Sisi with its spokesman Mahmoud Badr endorsing his nomination.

"We demand all Egyptians to elect Field Marshal El-Sisi as a national and popular agreed-upon candidate," Badr, the co-founder of Tamarod, told the official news agency MENA Tuesday.

The April 6 Youth Movement for its part said it was the right of El-Sisi to run in the presidential elections as an Egyptian citizen, but that the group won’t support him, nor any other military candidate, in the elections.

“We will not support a military personality in the presidential elections because we demanded on 25 January 2011 a civilian democratic state. We are also convinced that Field Marshal El-Sisi won’t run for the presidency because the armed forces could not have supported the people on 30 June for personal interests,” said Khaled El-Masry, head of the media office of the movement.

Aside from speculation that El-Sisi would announce his candidacy after being promoted to the rank of field marshal 1 February, no other political figure has announced his potential candidacy except for Hamdeen Sabahi, founder of the Nasserite Popular Current. 

The Popular Current expressed surprise on Wednesday at SCAF's statement Monday, considering it clear “interference” in the upcoming presidential elections.

“This statement violates the constitution and democratic values as well political traditions that all parties in Egypt should work on founding correctly,” read the Popular Current statement, adding the use of the word “mandate” in the official SCAF statement on El-Sisi gave the impression that El-Sisi was going to run in the presidential elections endorsed by the armed forces, as if he were representing the army in the election.

“The Popular Current has warned frequently of involving the national army in politics, because it cares for the army, especially after its support for the people’s will, whether on 25 January (2011) or 30 June (2013),” the statement added, insisting the army’s endorsement of a specific presidential candidate would make the position of the army “debatable” as a party in the political process.

Sabahi came in third in the presidential elections of 2012. He announced a couple of weeks ago in a television interview that he hoped El-Sisi would remain in the army, despite respecting the will of the people if they wanted El-Sisi to run.

“Sabahi is a potential presidential candidate of the Popular Current as long as there is no other presidential candidate with a better platform representing the revolution,” Hossam Moenas, official spokesperson of the Popular Current, told Ahram Online.

Moenas added that the Popular Current was holding frequent talks with different groups of young people and parties regarding the upcoming presidential candidates.

The Strong Egypt Party shares the skeptical view of the Popular Current, deeming SCAF’s Monday statement an “aggression” on the concept of the civilian state and a setback to democracy. 

“We warned frequently of the military institution’s intervention in politics, as it will put the army in a confrontation with every potential presidential candidate,” said a statement of the party issued Tuesday.

The Way of the Revolution Front also rejected the potential candidacy of El-Sisi. Its media spokeswoman Shaimaa Hamdi told Ahram Arabic that his candidacy contradicts with the “revolutionary demand” of a civilian state.

"We see the armed forces as backtracking on its promises to stay away from politics, presenting Field Marshal El-Sisi as a presidential candidate. It is an attack on the revolutionary legitimacy of both 30 June and 25 January," said Hamdy, adding that the front considered El-Sisi's candidacy as opening the path to a military state.

“How can we have fair and unbiased elections supervised and secured by the army when it supports publicly a presidential candidate from the army?” she said.

The Muslim Brotherhood also commented on Monday's development, but indirectly. It slammed the decision of the interim president to hold presidential elections before parliamentary elections, saying he did not have the right to issue presidential decrees.

“All [interim president Mansour Adly’s] decrees and decisions are illegitimate as we have a legitimate president who was kidnapped by a coup [though] he was supported by a popular will that elected him in a fair and democracy way,” said the Muslim Brotherhood in a statement issued Tuesday on its official Facebook page.

“The reason for speed in issuing this decision is how anxious the minister of defence (El-Sisi) is to become president,” said the Brotherhood.

The Muslim Brotherhood was designated by the Egyptian government as a terrorist organisation in December. It has been subject to a crackdown since the 14 August forced dispersal of sit-ins in Cairo and Giza in support of ousted president Morsi, who hails from the group.

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