Egyptian writer Alaa Al-Aswany has claimed that he has evidence to prove that former Defence Minister and Presidential candidate Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi receives support from the military and intelligence agencies to run his election campaign.
Al-Aswany, a founding member of the Kefaya political movement, said in an article headed “Is Sisi the army’s candidate?” on Facebook page that the executive editor-in-chief of Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper claimed to have received a phone call from a senior army officer inviting him to meet the presidential hopeful. Charl Fouad El-Masri apparently identified the person as Major Ahmed Shaaban, a staff member of army spokesman Colonel Ahmed Ali.
According to Al-Masri, he had agreed to attend the meeting scheduled two days later in Al-Masah Hotel, which is run by the army but he was then told that the meeting had been postponed. However, according to El-Masri, he found out later that the meeting took place and he was the only major journalist excluded. “The incident,” alleges Al-Aswany, “reveals that Al-Sisi continues to use the armed forces in his presidential campaign even though he is no longer an army officer.”
Pointing out that it is not the army spokesman’s job to organise meetings in a presidential campaign, Al-Aswany said that it turns Al-Sisi from being an independent candidate to an army candidate. “This hinders the possibility of equal opportunities between the two candidates because rival Hamdeen Sabbahi does not have the advantage of army officers organising his meetings.”
In another example of state interference in the campaign, Al-Aswany referred readers to an article published by Sawt al-Umma newspaper, which is run by editor in chief Abdel-Halim Qandil, a known supporter of Al-Sisi’s candidacy. A single typographical error in quotes from a speech by Al-Sisi led to 10,000 copies of the newspaper being pulped at the cost of a quarter of a million pounds, on the instructions of an “Egyptian sovereign body”. This, said Al-Aswany, is media code for instructions from one arm of the state security apparatus and confirms that the national press is run by security agencies and they back Al-Sisi in his supposedly civilian presidential campaign.
As such, Al-Aswany has concluded that Al-Sisi is not an independent candidate but a state candidate who harnesses its huge potential to guarantee his success in the presidential elections, undermining the principle of equal opportunities. The elections are, therefore, not fair.