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Egypt’s presidential campaign opens amid violence

© AFP

Video by Kathryn STAPLEY

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-05-03

Campaigning for Egypt’s upcoming presidential elections began on Saturday – just one day after four separate bombs killed at least five people across the country.

Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the retired military general who led last year’s overthrow of former president Mohammed Morsi, is widely expected to win the vote, which is scheduled for May 26-27.

Sisi’s only opponent, Hamdeen Sabahi, ran against Morsi during the country’s first democratic presidential elections in 2012, coming in third. Now, two years later, he faces a tough race against Sisi, who has enjoyed enormous popularity since ousting Morsi on July 3, 2013.

Sabahi, a leftist politician, has sought to portray himself as representing the ideals of the popular uprising that toppled Egypt’s longtime leader Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

Meanwhile, Sisi has pledged to stamp out a recent surge in militant attacks, drawing support from those looking for a strong, authoritative leader after years of unrest.

If Sisi wins, he is expected to restore the military’s influence, which was scaled back during the year Morsi – a senior member of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood movement – was in power.

Heightened violence

The start of the campaign comes just one day after two suicide bombings in Egypt’s South Sinai claimed the life of a soldier, while two other people were killed in separate bombings in the capital Cairo.

The soldier was killed by a suicide attack in El-Tur, a town on the main road between Cairo and the tourist resort of Sharm El-Sheikh. Three policemen and another soldier were wounded, an Interior Ministry statement said.

Four Egyptians were wounded in the second attack, further south on the road between El-Tur and Sharm El-Sheikh, the Interior Ministry and security sources said. A spokesman for the governorate of South Sinai province, speaking to CBC television, identified the wounded as employees of a tourism company. The Interior Ministry said they were factory workers.

A third bomb killed one policeman at a traffic security post near a courthouse in Cairo, security sources said. At least four other policemen were wounded, the Interior Ministry said.

In a fourth blast, one person was killed when a car exploded near a metro station in downtown Cairo, security sources said.

In other violence in the port city of Alexandria, two people were shot dead during clashes between residents and Morsi’s supporters, the Interior Ministry said in a statement. The Brotherhood, on its website, blamed one of the deaths in Alexandria on security forces.

Thousands of Brotherhood supporters have been arrested and hundreds killed since Morsi’s overthrow last year. The movement, which Egypt’s military-backed government has labeled a “terrorist”group, says it is committed to peaceful activism.

Underlining political tensions, an Egyptian court sentenced the leader of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood and 682 supporters to death earlier this week, intensifying a crackdown on the movement and drawing Western criticism.

The European Union has described the verdict as a breach of international human rights law.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)

Date created : 2014-05-03

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