File Photo: Moussa Mostafa Moussa (Photo: Ahram)
Egyptian presidential candidate Moussa Mostafa Moussa said during an interview with the Masaa program on the DMC TV on Saturday that if elected president, he will "put those who called for boycotting [Egypt's 2018] elections on trial" for "high treason."
"These calls incite foreign countries against Egypt," Moussa said during the interview.
Mousa's statements come in response to an announcement last week by the Civil Democratic Movement (CDM), a coalition of liberal and leftist political parties and organisations, that it will boycott Egypt's upcoming presidential elections, citing what it described as "the lack of any positive signs from the regime to guarantee a free and fair electoral process."
The CDM says it intends to ask the public to support a "Stay at Home" campaign on polling days, which are scheduled for March 26-28.
"They are harming Egyptians, [foreign] aid might be cut. [Our] food, and trade relations will be affected as a result of such campaigns, and this will eventually harm the Egyptian citizen," Moussa added.
On Friday, the National Election Authority (NEA) announced that President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and Ghad Party chairman Moussa Mostafa Moussa are the only two presidential hopeful who submitted requests to run in the presidential elections.
In late January, President El-Sisi presented 549 endorsements from MPs and 161,707 citizen signatures to the authority in order to qualify as a candidate, while Moussa submitted endorsements from 20 MPs.
Hopeful candidates must submit endorsements from at least 20 MPs or from 25,000 citizens to be eligible to run for president.
In the past few weeks, a number of potential candidates, including former MP Mohamed Anwar El-Sadat and rights lawyer Khaled Ali, ended their nomination campaigns after citing an unfair playing field for challengers of President El-Sisi.
In the past few days, numerous public figures and many MPs have blasted the CDM's calls for boycott, accusing the group of aiming to undermine democracy and the Egyptian constitution.
The Mostakbal Watan (The Future of a Nation) Party, the second largest party in parliament, issued a statement last week condemning the boycott campaign, saying that it "serves the foreign agenda."
"The Egyptian people face a dangerous and major challenge. We must stand behind the state in order to foil all plans that aim at blocking the country's path of accomplishments or at defaming the presidential elections process in order to impede our achievements," said the statement.
Also last week, lawyer Mohamed Hassan filed a legal complaint to Egypt's prosecution against CDM members, accusing them of inciting against the regime, and harming Egyptian economy and national security.
However, on the other side, members of parliament's opposition 25-30 bloc defended the right of citizens to choose to boycott polls. On Saturday, MP Haitham El-Hariri, a leading member of the bloc, said in press statements that boycotting elections is both a legal and constitutional right on par with the right to vote.
The bloc has refused to lend endorsements to either President El-Sisi or Moussa, saying the nomination process was manipulated, but adding that it has not yet decided whether or not to endorse a boycott.
Moussa, the 66 year-old engineer, is running on a program of empowering the youth by encouraging the creation of small businesses, re-opening closed factories, and increasing exports.
The NEA will announce on 24 February the final list of qualified candidates after nominees' applications are fully vetted.