Egypt: Who is Left to Run in the Election?

sisiImage Credits: Wikimedia Commons
The competitors of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi are dropping like flies.

The 2018 Egyptian elections are set to take place on 26-28 March 2018. The current president is Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who won the country’s 2014 elections with 96.91 percent of legal votes after leading the group that overthrew his predecessor, President Mohammed Morsi. His only rival in the competition was Hamdeen Sabahi.

On Tuesday 23 January 2018, retired General Sami Anan—a Presidential candidate of Egypt’s 2018 election— was arrested by the authorities. According to Egypt Independent, the Egyptian Armed Forces announced that the former Chief of Staff was being investigated for three reasons: forgery in the official application documents for presidential candidacy; violating army rule by not requesting for permission to run for presidency, as he is still subject to army recall; and inciting disruption between the armed forces and civilians when he declared his intention to run for presidency.

“I hold the regime of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi entirely responsible for his wellbeing. [On Monday] 30 members of the campaign were also arrested as well as some of their family members. It’s not known where any of them are being held,” Mahmoud Refaat, a spokesman for Anan’s campaign abroad, said to The Guardian.

“Mr Anan was the strongest candidate and the true first choice of Egyptians, so the regime arrested him.”

But Anan was not the first candidate to be systematically kicked out of the race. A day after Anan was arrested, human rights lawyer Khaled Ali withdrew his candidacy. In September, he was sentenced to three months in prison for public indecency after alleged rude hand gestures outside the courthouse. Ali has since appealed, rendering the case politically motivated. The court then postponed the final decision to March 7th, almost three weeks before the imminent election is set to hold.

Former Egyptian Prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq, was randomly arrested by the United Arab Emirate (UAE) government shortly after announcing his candidacy in November 2018. Shafiq had fled to the UAE after losing the 2012 presidential election to Mohammed Morsi, but after his detainment, he was deported back to Egypt in a private plane with Egyptian authorities. Alarabyreported that his family considered him kidnapped and was ready to file complaints. Then suddenly Shafiq was back in the spotlight, being interviewed on Egyptian television during which he pulled out of the race and denied allegation of being kidnapped.

In his article ‘The Fatality of Democracy: Why Elections are Rigged in Africa,’ Martin K.N. Kollie mentions the following 5 reasons why Africans rig elections: To maintain socio-economic and political supremacy; To protect stolen wealth and protégés; To sustain failed legacy and render the opposition impotent; To crush democracy by discouraging mass political participation; and to perpetuate greed, elitism and conspiracy against the majority. He also adds that “incumbent governments that have betrayed public confidence by failing to deliver on their promises to the people employ this crafty scheme (rigging elections) to forcibly detest the popular will of the people and retain political control by all means.”

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