In the absence of any strong opposition candidate, the upcoming presidential election in Egypt seems closer to being a formality for incumbent Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi. This feeling is strengthened by the fact that prominent figures and politicians are calling for a boycott of the election. Predictably, the government accuses them of trying to overthrow the regime.
Leaders of the Civil Democratic Movement have raised international concerns after calling on Egyptians to boycott the elections scheduled for the end of next month. The opposition coalition described the election as "absurd".
The Movement was founded last December by eight political parties and about 150 political figures, including former presidential candidates Hamdeen Sabahi and Khaled Ali. Prominent opposition figure George Isaac is also involved. He was one of the founders of the 2004 Kefaya Movement that led numerous protests against former President Hosni Mubarak before the overthrow of his regime after the 2011 revolution.
"We refuse to participate in the farce called elections," insisted Sabahi in a press conference on Tuesday.
These are not elections. There are no guarantees; there are no candidates; there is no freedom. So, there are no elections.
He added that the coalition holds the regime accountable, because it has "led the country to this impasse due of its arbitrariness, abuse, arrogance and unilateral opinion."
According to Yahya Hussein, the official spokesman for the movement, "We are no longer in an electoral process in which we can engage, but we are in the process of completely confiscating the right of the Egyptian people to choose their president and a futile scenario in which we wouldn't like to participate."
The first round of the presidential election will be held between 26 and 28 March. In the absence of a strong candidate who could face President Al-Sisi, he is likely to win a second term. The only challenger appears to be the leader of the liberal Al-Ghad Party, Moussa Mustafa Musa, known for his support of Al-Sisi. He presented his candidacy papers to the Supreme National Electoral Commission (NEC) on Monday. Al-Sisi won his first term as President with 96.9 per cent of the votes cast in 2014.
In the past two weeks, Egypt has seen candidates withdrawing and being excluded by the regime. The former Prime Minister in the Mubarak era, Ahmed Shafik, and Sami Anan, Chief of the Army Staff who was removed by President Mohamed Morsi in 2012, are notable among the latter.