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FACTBOX - Egypt's presidential election: Who are the candidates?

December 6, 2023 at 5:59 pm

Posters and banners of candidates are seen on the billboards in streets ahead of the presidential elections to be held on 10th December in Cairo, Egypt on December 04, 2023 [Mohamed Elshahed/Anadolu Agency]

Egypt will hold a presidential election on 10-12 December, in which Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi is set to sweep to a third term in a vote overshadowed by the war in Gaza.

The most prominent potential opposition candidate pulled out in October, complaining that dozens of his supporters had been arrested and that officials and pro-government thugs had hampered his campaign. Egypt’s National Election Authority has said that such allegations were baseless.

Three other politicians, none of them high profile figures, have qualified to run against Sisi. Here are details on the candidates.

Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi 

Sisi, 68, is a former army chief who led the overthrow of democratically elected, Mohamed Morsi, of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013, following protests against Morsi’s rule.

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Sisi was Minister of Defence between 2012-2013 and Director of Military Intelligence and Reconnaissance between 2010-2012. He resigned from the armed forces in 2014 to run for president.

He was announced victor with 97 per cent of the vote, becoming Egypt’s eighth president, and secured a second term, four years later, with the same margin of victory.

Sisi is running for a third term made possible following Constitutional amendments in 2019 that also extended the length of presidential terms to six years from four.

His rule has been marked by a crackdown on dissent across the political spectrum. Rights groups say tens of thousands have been detained, including Brotherhood leaders and liberal activists. Sisi and his backers say the crackdown was directed at extremists and saboteurs trying to undermine the State.

Farid Zahran 

A veteran politician and leftist opposition figure, Farid Zahran, 66, heads the Egyptian Social Democratic Party.

Zahran has long been involved in co-founding political movements and coalitions, including the 1970s student movement, the Kifaya (Enough) Movement that protested against Egypt’s late former president Hosni Mubarak’s rule from 2004, and the Civil Democratic Movement formed in 2017 to support democracy and social justice.

Zahran says he prioritises limiting state ownership of economic assets to major strategic projects, such as the Suez Canal Authority, Egypt’s aluminium company and the electricity, water and sewage companies.

Abdel Sanad Yamama

Abdel Sanad Yamama, 71, is a lawyer and professor of international law, who is the presidential candidate for Wafd, Egypt’s oldest liberal party.

Yamama has said he would like to impose a limit of two four-year terms for the president. “It is impossible, psychologically or physically for a president of a country with Egypt’s problems to bear remaining in office for 16 years,” he has said.

Yamama also supports constitutional amendments with a focus on rights, freedoms and economic reform that he says would allow for “a free economy”.

Hazem Omar

At 59, the former Chair of the Egyptian Senate’s Foreign Affairs Committee and head of the Republican Peoples’ Party, Hazem Omar is the youngest candidate in the race.

The businessman-turned-politician is campaigning under the slogan “Together we’ll make a change” and says he intends to prioritise healthcare and educational reform as he believes these are the core priorities of citizens.

He has also called for a focus on local economic growth and agriculture, energy and trade, at a time when the economy has been hit by a long-running foreign currency shortage and near-record inflation.

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