On April 14th a legal adviser of Abdel Fatah al-Sisi submitted 200.000 signatures in favour of al-Sisi’s presidential candidacy to the election commission, which is eight times the number required. Although al-Sisi’s election manifesto has not been published yet, he already enjoys support from these 200.000 persons.
Al-Sisi announcement to run for president
On March 26th Egypt's military leadership was presenting Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's resignation from his post of defence minister at a meeting with the interim head of state. Al-Sisi was required to step down from his positions in the military in order to run for the presidential elections of May 26th and 27th. On the same day he announced his candidacy: “True, today is my last day in military uniform, but I will continue to fight every day for an Egypt free of fear and terrorism.”
In order to run for president, candidates must secure at least 25.000 signatures from at least 15 of Egypt’s 27 provinces. For al-Sisi this was not a problem: he gained eight times the number of signatures needed to register as a candidate. This has to do with the fact that al-Sisi won a lot of support in Egypt as head of the army and minister of defence during former president Mohammed Morsi’s of the Muslim Brotherhood removal. Last year there were mass protests against the rule of Egypt’s first freely elected president, which led to Morsi’s removal. In the interim administration that was established afterwards, al-Sisi emerged as the most influential figure.
Hamdeen Sabahi, a left-wing politician who also run in the 2012 presidential election, is expected to become al-Sisi’s main rival. Next to male candidates a women will run for the first time in Egypt’s presidential elections: news anchor and activist Bothaina Kamel. She also tried at the 2012 elections but at that moment she was not able to meet the required number of signatures. Now she did. Kamel further completed the medical examination, which is required for running for presidency. The results are sent to the Supreme Electoral Commission.
The Muslim Brotherhood
The Muslim Brotherhood, party of former president Morsi, is not happy with the major support for al-Sisi, who is “the mastermind of a coup against a freely elected leader.” Whether a member of the Muslim Brotherhood will run is not clear yet. Tareq Mahmoud, legal advisor for the Popular Front Against Brotherhoodization of Egypt, filed a lawsuit to force the High Elections Commission, the prime minister and the interior minister to not accept nomination papers from the Muslim Brotherhood. The Alexandria Court of First Instance is expected to come to a verdict this week.
EU Election Observation Mission
EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, announced that the EU will send an Electoral Observation Mission to the May elections because “we want the people of Egypt to move forward, we do want these elections to herald the beginning of the next phase of life in Egypt.” The Election Observation Mission will be comprised of 150 members of the European Parliament representing EU nations, EU diplomats in Egypt and observers from Canada, Switzerland and Norway. According to Ashton, the Election Observation Mission is extremely important because there is “concern about the arrests of activists and journalist and a recent court ruling that sentenced more than 500 Morsi supporters to death.”
Since Morsi’s overthrown in July 2013, the number of bombings and shootings by Morsi supporters increased. At the time of writing the last car bomb went off today, April 15th. Two Egyptian policemen and a civilian have been wounded. The bomb was placed at a security checkpoint in central Cairo. In the past months most attacks have taken place in the restive Sinai Peninsula. However, attacks are currently spreading to other parts of the country as well. Next to bombs, protests keep taking place. On April 14th a student was killed in clashes between the police and anti-coup protesters at Cairo University. This university have become a major arena for protests by those opposing the military topple of Morsi.
The Anti-Coup National Alliance have called for a week of “non-violent defiance and a huge revolutionary Monday in solidarity with detainees and martyr’s families.” On Monday it was already clear that this week to be non-violent is already not feasible anymore. As the elections approach, changes that people will show their support and aversion towards different candidates gets more likely, which could be accompanied with even more violence.
By Laura Ritter
Sources: Aljazeera I, Reuters, Daily News Egypt I, Egypt Independent, Daily News Egypt II, Aljazeera II