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Would-be Egyptian presidential candidate says Sisi’s popularity has waned

The then President elect Abdel Fattah al-Sisi delivers a speech after signing the handing over of power document in Cairo, on June 8, 2014 [Egyptian Presidency / ApaImages]
Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi delivers a speech in Cairo, on 8 June, 2014 [Egyptian Presidency/ApaImages]

An Egyptian politician and would-be presidential candidate has said that he hopes to gain at least 10 million votes if not an outright victory in the 2018 election, Anadolu Agency reported on Wednesday.

Mohamed Anwar Sadat is a former parliamentarian who was dismissed by his peers in February over the alleged leaking to foreign embassies of a bill on civil society. He is the nephew of the former president who was assassinated in 1981.

Sadat told Anadolu that by running for president he will not be playing a cosmetic role or legitimising the electoral process. “Alternation of power is the future, and the era of a president with 97 or 99 per cent [of the vote] has ended,” he explained.

The popularity of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, who is expected to run for a second term, is not as high as it was when he first came to power in 2014, Sadat claimed. “It is my right, as it is that of others, to take part in a fair competition as long as we meet the conditions [required for candidacy],” he pointed out. The circumstances surrounding the elections determine whether he and other possible candidates decide whether to stand for office. Such circumstances, he suggested, are related to the impartiality of the electoral commission as well as the objectivity of the media and state institutions.

Read: Sisi’s phobia

Another factor, said Sadat, is the ability of a candidate’s electoral campaign to get their message across without obstacles. He mentioned that he is currently preparing an electoral platform and looking for the essential financial backing.

On Tuesday, President Sisi issued a presidential decree forming the board of the National Electoral Commission, which will comprise 10 members, all of whom are judges. The commission will be tasked with supervising all national elections and referendums, including the upcoming presidential election.

A protest against the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi in London, UK on 4 November 2014 [Alisdare Hickson/Flickr]

A protest against the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi in London, UK on 4 November 2014 [Alisdare Hickson/Flickr]

According to Article 140 of the Egyptian Constitution, “The procedures for electing the President of the Republic begin at least 120 days before the end of the presidential term. The result is to be announced at least 30 days before the end of term.”

Speaking of obstacles that he is facing as a possible presidential candidate, Sadat described the criticism that he started to face upon announcing his intention to run in the election. Critics accuse him of collaborating with the regime and the security apparatus to put a stamp of legitimacy on the electoral process and the current regime, which is facing widespread local and international condemnation over its human rights record.

Read: 56 violations against Egyptian journalists in 3 months

Sadat countered by claiming that if that had been true, he would not have been “smeared” and dismissed from parliament. “The fact that I want to run proves that I have nothing to hide and that nothing scares me.”

Drawing from his experience as the former head of the parliamentary human rights committee, Sadat criticised the status of human rights in Egypt. “There are violations and abuses,” he insisted. “Everyone today [whether] Islamists, leftists or liberals or journalists, are under the exceptional law, which has no justice. This must end.”

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