Abul-Fotouh launches presidential programme amid fireworks

Zeinab El Gundy, Tuesday 3 Apr 2012

In a star-studded event at Al-Azhar Park Monday, the expelled Brotherhood member promises to put Egypt in the world's top 20 countries, increase size of Egypt's Armed Forces and ban military trials

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Presidential Candidate Abu El Fotoh in a public meeting (Photo: Abul-Fotouh Campaign)

In a flourish of fireworks, presidential candidate Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh  officially launched his programme among thousands of supporters Monday night at Al-Azhar Park in Old Cairo.

The slogan of the campaign "Strong Egypt" and the face of Abul-Fotouh filled huge banners. Visitors could also pick up campaign merchandise as t-shirts and notebooks were on sale.

The extravagant event was attended by several well-known personalities including television hosts, party leaders and Christian figures, all of whom have announced their endorsement of Abul-Fotouh’s presidential bid.

Among these figures was Hamdi Qandil, the famous television host. “Abul-Fotouh is the revolution’s only presidential candidate," enthused Qandil.

"He is not like the fake candidates, especially since one of the groups has pushed its leading member into the presidential race,” Qandil added in a clear reference to the Muslim Brotherhood's recent nomination of second-in-command, the wealthy businessman Khairat El-Shater

Poet Abdel-Rahman Youssef, television host Dina Abdel-Rahman, actress Athar El-Hakim and political sciences professor Mona Makram Ebeid (who recently resigned from the Constituent Assembly) also showed their support in person.

Al-Wasat Party Leader Abu-Ela Mady was among the prominent political figures that attended, indicating that the moderate Islamist party has made up its mind to support Abul-Fotouh.

This follows weeks of debate between Wasat party members over whether to support the former Muslim Brotherhood member or Mohamed Salim El-Awa in the presidential race.

There were also a group of Brotherhood leading members in the audience, who had been expelled or had resigned for showing their support of Abul-Fotouh.

Abdul-Fotouh himself was forced to leave the Islamist group in summer last year for announcing his intention to run for presidency, as the Brotherhood leadership initially declared they would not be backing a presidential candidate.

This decision was reversed this week, when the Brotherhood declared El-Shater is running.

Among the ex-Brotherhood figures was Kamal El-Helbawy, the former spokesperson in Europe, who resigned last Saturday in objection to El-Shater's candidacy.

El-Helbawy praised Abul-Fotouh, adding that he did not leave Tahrir Square for one day during the initial 18 days of the Egyptian Revolution.  

The event started with a short documentary about the life of the Islamist presidential candidate and practising physician. Various supporters of Abul-Futouh gave short speeches on a huge theatrical stage explaining why they are backing him.

Abul-Fotouh then presented his advisory team, which included a wide range of professors and experts in different fields including politics, the economy, technology and rights of the disabled in Egypt.

Abul-Fotouh himself addressed the audience, outlining his presidential programme and promises. "I am proud of your support for me," he said at the beginning of his speech, before vowing to "serve" the nation as an "employee" of the people, whose rights and goals he will "preserve."

"My dream is to put Egypt in the top 20 countries across the world in the upcoming ten years," he said, before adding that this will be achieved through democratic rule.

Regarding the Egyptian army, the presidential candidate promised to increase the number of the Egyptian armed forces personnel as well its capabilities because "nations need strong armies to protect their renaissances," he said.

Abul-Fotouh also promised to stop relying on American military aid packages and deals.

“We will depend on different weaponary sources for Egypt's Armed Forces, until we restore the past glory of the Arab Organisation for Industrialisation (an Egypt-based Arab military industrial organisation) and manufacture our own weapons,” Abul-Fotouh promised thousands of his supporters.  

The presidential candidate spoke about the importance of restoring Egypt’s agricultural wealth and the problems Egyptian farmers have been facing in recent years.

He also announced his full support for free education. He promised not only to cancel military trials for civilians but also to arrange retrials in front of civilian courts for those citizens who have faced military tribunals.

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