Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh will not run in the upcoming presidential elections, his Strong Egypt Party announced Sunday in a press conference, describing the polls as a "mockery" of elections.
"We will not take part in deceiving the people," said party leader Aboul-Fotouh, who had finished fourth in the 2012 presidential race.
The party boycotted Egypt's latest constitutional referendum on 14-15 January, after its members were arrested for spreading posters calling for a "No" vote.
On Saturday, leftist politician Hamdeen Sabbahi – who had finished third in the 2012 presidential elections – announced he would again run for president.
A roadmap was put into effect in Egypt after Islamist president Mohamed Morsi was ousted on 3 July following mass protests against his one-year rule.
In accordance with a recent decree by interim President Adly Mansour, presidential polls are to take place before 18 April.
Party decides on boycott
The Strong Egypt Party announced later on Sunday that it will not support any presidential candidate so far slated to run in the elections scheduled for Spring.
“We discussed the presidential elections in our party and we found that the practices of the current regime do not indicate any kind of democratic path or respect for freedoms and human beings,” Abul-Fotouh said in the press conference.
Nonetheless, the party will continue following closely political developments on the national scene.
“When we have nearly 21,000 activists detained in prisons, who will participate and vote in theses elections? When the detainees are tortured and when 85 journalists are detained and channels are closed without judicial order, how to participate in the elections? 'The State of Fear' is back in Egypt,” Abul-Fotouh said.
“Each Egyptian is now afraid to express his opinion freely,” he added, yet assuring that “Egyptians won’t accept this state,” especially that “they stood against it on 30 June 2013.”
During the press conference, Strong Egypt Party spokesperson Ahmed Emam revealed that several hotels refused to host the press conference of the party, unlike in the past — a fact Abul-Fotouh alluded to in his speech.
“I know without doubt that the hotel manager that refused to host our press conference acted alone, without orders from the regime, but rather out of fear,” said the founder of Strong Egypt Party.
“We do not believe in boycotting in the Strong Egypt Party and we tried to engage in the elections process in the last poll on the constitution. We made a campaign against the constitution, but we were met by rejection. Our members were arrested while campaigning and we were not allowed to hold public meetings,” said Abul-Fotouh.
The party also issued an official statement on its position on the presidential elections, slamming the statement of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) green-lighting the presidential candidacy of Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.
“The SCAF meeting to delegate one of its commanders to run in the presidential elections was another strong blow to democracy in Egypt, as it entails the military institution deviating from its mission to be involved in politics directly. Now any potential presidential candidate is standing against the armed forces and all the state's institutions,” said the statement, also accusing the media of being biased to one candidate while defaming other potential candidates.
The party insisted that building a true democracy in Egypt is the only way to create a political environment that allows for transparency and accountability as well a state of law.
Despite that the party made it clear it would not participate in the presidential elections, it announced that it was preparing for parliamentary elections and is in talks with all political powers in Egypt hoping to reach reconciliation.
Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh, a former leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood, ran in the presidential elections in 2012 where he came fourth in the first round after leaders Ahmad Shafiq and Mohamed Morsi, and Hamdeen Sabbahi.
According to Ahmed Emam, the decision to boycott the upcoming presidential elections expected to be held in April was reached by the high committee of the party Friday.
The Strong Egypt Party press conference was interrupted by news correspondents who staged one minute stand in front of the TV cameras in solidarity with CBC correspondent Mohamed Abdel Aal who was assaulted by security forces Friday. Abdel Aal was assaulted on air by security forces while covering the blasts at Giza Bridge.
Strong Egypt Party officials, and founder Abul-Fotouh, declared solidarity with journalists who face difficulties in the current political environment in Egypt, while at the same time criticising the “bad media in Egypt."
“We respect and support the respectable media searching for truth in Egypt, not the media that spreads hate, incitement and polarisation, fighting a satire show,” Abul-Fotouh said in reference to attacks in the Egyptian media on Bassem Youssef’s show, Al-Bernmag (The Programme).