Presidential hopeful Mohamed Anwar Sadat has said that state security forces prevented him from announcing his plan to run in the upcoming presidential elections.
The nephew of former Egyptian president Anwar Sadat’s comments came in a letter to the state-run National Electoral Commission (NEC), in which he stated that government security apparatus has prevented him from holding a press conference to announce his intention to run in Egypt’s 2018 presidential elections.
“The issue is … of guaranteeing the integrity of the elections, for me and for other candidates,” Sadat stressed.
“Over the past two months we have been trying to book a hall in a hotel in Cairo to hold a press conference on 13 January 2018 to announce our [Wafd] party’s final stance towards the 2018 presidential election,” he said.
“A hotel had initially sent us several offers for prices to book, but the day after, we were told that the National Security Agency refused to allow the hotel to confirm the booking without its approval,” he noted.
Sadat explained that two other hotels replied in the same way, while the Nile Ritz-Carlton said all its halls were fully booked until after the elections.
“I sent this letter because I hold the head of the National Electoral Commission accountable,” he said.
Current President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s backers have been able to hold two public campaigns in support of him with the backing of government agencies, Sadat added.
According to Article 142 of the Egyptian Constitution, a presidential candidate must be endorsed by at least 20 members of parliament. “For this to happen, Parliament must open its doors to candidates or their representatives to present their programmes and collect signatures in an official capacity,” Sadat wrote.
The NEC has made no comment regarding the letter.
Al-Sisi took office in a military coup in which he ousted the country’s first democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013. An election held the following year, which according to international observers fell short of international standards of democracy, saw Al-Sisi sworn in for a four-year term.
His term ends next number however he is expected to seek re-election although he has yet to announce his candidacy.
Whilst other candidates have stepped forward, with Al-Sisi’s history of quashing opposition and jailing rival political figures, it remains to be seen if they will follow through with their pledges.
One potential candidate is former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq who served under deposed President Hosni Mubarak. Shafiq lost the election after Mubarak’s ousting in 2012, and lived in self-imposed exile in the UAE until this month. After announcing his plan to run in the UAE, he was subsequently deported from the Emirates. The UAE has backed Al-Sisi’s brutal authority with billions of dollars.
Human rights lawyer Khaled Ali has also announced that he will take part in the presidential race next year. However, he was subsequently convicted of “violating public decency” for allegedly making an obscene gesture in court, he is appealing the decision. If the verdict is upheld, he could be disqualified from the process.