Sabahi's campaign says Egypt's government refused complaint of bias

Ahram Online , Tuesday 15 Apr 2014

Complaint says that government officials and workers in notary offices have been biased in favour of the presidential bid of Egypt's former army chief

Hamdeen Sabbahi Egypt's candidate in the presidential race (Photo: Simon Hanna)

The official campaign of leftist presidential hopeful Hamdeen Sabahi said on Tuesday that Egypt's government has dismissed a complaint it lodged against perceived bias shown by officials in favour of his main rival in the polls, ex-army chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.

"The campaign's legal advisor headed to the cabinet's headquarters on Tuesday afternoon to hand in the complaint, and after waiting for more than an hour, the secretariat refused to receive it," read the campaign's statement.

The secretariat gave no reasons for doing so, Sabahi’s team added, saying the complaint would be resent to the cabinet and submitted to the country's electoral committee through documented post.

“The complaint urges the prime minister to commit to his earlier pledges of ... impartiality during the presidential race in a way that guarantees transparency and makes [the election] expressive of Egyptians’ real will,” the statement said.

The campaign's letter gave examples of media statements made by current ministers who have vocally expressed their support for the former defence minister.

The ministers mentioned in the memo are: Minister of Tourism Hisham Zaazou, Minister of Sports and Youth Khaled Abdel-Aziz and Minister of Local Development Adel Labib. 

The campaign stressed that such biased comments are a violation of article 87 of the newly ratified constitution, which prohibits "the use of public funds, government agencies, public facilities, worship places, business sector institutions and non-governmental organisations and institutions for political purposes or election publicity."

The article also holds the state responsible for guaranteeing the "safety, neutrality and integrity of referendums and election procedures."

The leftist's campaign team has repeatedly voiced concerns over alleged harassment by El-Sisi’s supporters or bias from workers at notary offices as they tour cities to gather the 25,000 signatures needed for Sabahi to be eligible as a candidate.

Sabbahi himself has voiced misgivings in recent TV comments over the media's "blatant" backing of El-Sisi's bid, saying that the campaign of the former general is rife with "corrupt figures".

The Nasserist leader faces a tough challenge to win the 26-27 May presidential vote, highly expected to be won by El-Sisi, whose popularity has skyrocketed since he led the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi last summer.

Sabbahi came third in the 2012 presidential elections that brought Morsi to power.



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