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Leftist Sabahi to challenge Sisi for Egypt presidency

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-04-21

Former army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who let the ouster of Egypt’s first freely elected president, will face off against leftist politician Hamdeen Sabahi in May’s presidential election, the committee organising the vote said.

The committee had received paperwork from former army chief Sisi and former parliamentarian and presidential candidate Sabahi, it said at a news conference on Sunday, several hours after the deadline had passed.

The committee will announce the official list of candidates on May 2 for the vote on May 26-27. Campaigning will run from May 3 to 23.

A member of the committee told Reuters that a run-off will be held if the winning candidate does not get 50 percent plus one of the total number of votes cast.

Though hopes for a robust democracy in Egypt were raised after a 2011 uprising toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak, Sisi deposed the country’s first freely-elected president, Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, last year.

Sisi is clear favourite

Sisi is riding a wave of popular support and is the clear front-runner in this year’s vote.
Abdelaziz Salman, secretary-general of the Presidential Elections Committee, said that Sisi had submitted 188,930 signatures endorsing his candidacy to the committee, and Sabahi had submitted 31,555. The required number is 25,000.

Sisi has gained cult-like adulation from supporters who see him as a saviour who can end the political turmoil since the army-led popular uprising in 2011.

Sisi was seen as the most influential figure in an interim administration that has been cracking down hard on the Brotherhood and other opponents. Egypt’s best organised political party until last year, the Brotherhood has since been banned and declared a terrorist organisation. Islamists, many of whom have been driven underground, view Sisi as the mastermind of the coup.

The only other contender, Sabahi, heads a political alliance called the Popular Current and was a member of parliament under Mubarak. Sabahi told Reuters in an interview last month that he doubted Sisi would bring democracy if elected, alleging Mubarak’s former chief of military intelligence was responsible for human rights abuses.

Neither candidate has outlined a strategy for tackling poverty, energy shortages and unemployment that afflict many of Egypt’s 85 million people.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS, AP)
 

Date created : 2014-04-21

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