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The fantasia of the Egyptian elections

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi delivers a speech in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, on 5 November 2017 [Egyptian President Office/Apaimages]

It was suddenly announced in Egypt that members of the House of Representatives formed under the watchful eye of the government and intelligence convened to nominate Al-Sisi. His campaign had already started under the slogan Alashan Tabneeha (So You Can Build It) supported by petitions signed by artists, athletes, and journalists. These petitions were then distributed to the ministries and government institutions and their employees were forced to sign them. They are now forcing them to nominate Al-Sisi and the streets and squares of Egypt are full of pictures of him and signs supporting and pledging allegiance to him.

It would have been better if the so-called House of Representatives had extended the presidential term indefinitely rather than hold elections. This would've spared the state treasury billions that will be wasted in this sham, despite the fact that I know this money will not benefit the people. However, at least we will be spared the false celebration, drumming, and dancing either by the honourable people in the streets or by the corrupt media in their media cabarets.

Everyone, near and far, knows that the stage is being set for one and only one candidate, especially in the West, which is staging this mockery for him, despite knowing that genuine elections cannot be held in light of a military authority controlling all state institutions, the arteries of political life in the country being blocked and a decline in liberties and free expression in an atmosphere that lacks the minimum level of transparence to ensure integrity.

This circus was prepared to receive the play's extra, lawyer Khaled Ali, who wanted to be a running mate rather an extra but was denied this because an extra is all a civilian can be in a military government. He was groomed and trained a while ago to play this role using the stick and carrot method, as a scandalous lawsuit was filed against him in which he was sentenced to three months in prison. The appeal was pushed back to March, i.e. after the elections, in an obvious sign clear to everyone. He had refused to run in the 2014 elections, which he described as a sham play, and refused to play the part of an extra. But how does the 2018 election differ from the one before it if it is being held in the same atmosphere? To be honest, nothing has changed other than the extra having changed from Hamdeen Sabahi  (who was being held by a case against his daughter) to Khaled Ali.

Read: Egyptian army detains ex-military chief over presidential bid

The fossilised elite, or, to be more precise, the corrupt elite, the heroes of the counter-revolution, which also included Khaled Ali and those who thwarted the first real electoral experience in Egypt's history, which spans over 7,000 years, allowed the military to ride in on their tanks and regain control. It is ironic that this same corrupt elite issued a statement announcing its support and backing of Khaled Ali as they rely on the democratic transition despite the fact that they are the ones who buried democracy in its infancy as a result of the political corruption spread among these elites.

In a sudden development that was prepared for, former army chief of staff, Lieutenant General Sami Anan, appeared in the fantasia and his party announced his candidacy in the presidential elections. However, he did not appear in public and remained hidden for over a week; absent in person but present in name. Everyone was confused and wondered if negotiations were taking place with him behind the scenes in order to convince him to back down from his announcement.

This announcement is considered to be major and against the rules of the game they had agreed upon. Is it the same situation as with Ahmed Shafik, who announced the withdrawal of his candidacy under threats, according to leaks by The New York Times? Or will he reconsider his decision himself when dealing with the state that supposedly supports him, especially since in the 2014 elections, his chances were assassinated and he was forced to issue a statement withdrawing his candidacy and supporting Al-Sisi? Will this occur again?

Read: Egyptian accused of killing army officer executed

However, he suddenly erased all suspicions and doubts and appeared in person, making a strong statement in which he made various hints and digs at Al-Sisi and his mismanagement of the country. He especially had a strong position against Al-Sisi's concession of the Egyptian islands of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia, posting on his Facebook page, "We do not doubt that the two islands are Egyptian, but we do doubt the nationality of the person who conceded them".

Meanwhile, Al-Sisi announced at a conference titled "Story of a Homeland," organised specifically to talk about his delusional achievements which we did not witness on the ground, that during the past four years, 11,000 projects were achieved. It is impossible to achieve this many projects, as using simple maths we find that he would have had to open seven projects a day, which is impossible. However, he uses this kind of lying and deception with the brainwashed nation, brainwashed as a result of his corrupt media.

Sisi announces date for presidential elections - Cartoon [Alaraby.co.uk]

Sisi announces date for presidential elections – Cartoon [Alaraby.co.uk]

At the end of the conference, which lasted three days, he announced he would be running for president, beginning the battle between the two men, albeit a verbal battle. In his conference,Al-Sisi said he would not allow a corrupt individual to assume the position, in reference to Anan. Then the powerful media machine, controlled by Al-Sisi's government, began fiercely attacking Anan and the nation was divided between those supporting Anan as the only solution to get rid of Al-Sisi's government and those opposed to both men, as they see them as two sides of the same coin, i.e. the military coin. These opponents want to get rid of military rule for good, not replace one military officer with another.

Now, as I am writing this article, Lieutenant General Sami Anan has been arrested and transferred to a military hearing. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces issued a statement condemning Anan and accusing him of several crimes and violations against the military, as well as abuse and forgery.

Hence, the presidential fantasia has taken a dramatic turn and Al-Sisi managed to eliminate his strongest opponent by way of knockout. However, will the curtain fall on this scene or are there still new surprises in this fantasia? The answer to this question will become apparent in the coming days, which are loaded with events that may turn the whole scene upside down.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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