Leftist opposition leader Sabahi announces to run in Egypt’s presidential elections

Leftist Egyptian politician Hamdeem Sabahi has announced that he will run for president of Egypt, making him the first candidate to officially enter the presidential race. Sabahi has regularly expressed his intention to run for president but waited till last Saturday, 8 February, to announce his decision. Sabahi will probably have to contest the popular Army Chief Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, who has not yet announced his candidacy.

Leftist politician

Hamdeem Sabahi is founder of the Egyptian Popular Current and a well known Egyptian opposition leader. He was one of the leaders of the National Salvation Front who organized protests against Mursi. Also, he was a leading dissident against former Egyptian President Mubarak, who was overthrown in 2011, after three decades in power. In 2012 Sabahi took part in the presidential elections, becoming third.

Announcing his candidacy, Sabahi said: "My personal decision as a citizen is to run for the coming presidential elections”. "Hamdeen Sabahi's battle is the battle of the revolution", he stated Sabahi added he would not cooperate with anyone "who considers the 30 June protests a coup, or the 25 January revolution a conspiracy", referring to the ousting of former Presidents Mubarak and Mursi. Launching his presidential bid, Sabahi told the audience: “Firstly, our battle is against poverty, backwardness, corruption and tyranny”. Sabahi appeals to a range of liberal, left-wing and secular-minded Egyptians who reject both military and Islamist rule.

Tamarod undicided

Sabahy’s statement caused confusion and division at Tamarod, a youth movement that gathered signatures to oust former President Mohamed Mursi. Sabahi is a co-founder of Tamarod.  

On the movements Facebook page, Tamarod co-founders Hassan Shahin and Mohamed Abdel Aziz, expressed their support for Sabahi’s candidacy. However, another co-founder, Mahmoud Badr, said Tamarod’s Facebook page had been hijacked and no longer represented the movement. Later, a statement signed by a group of 50 Tamarod co-founders and officials, was published on the Tamarod Facebook page supporting Hameed Sabahi.

The movements website, however, claims to support Defense Minister Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s potential presidential bid.  The governorates of Alexandria and Port Said, both Tamarod supporters, also announced their support Al-Sisi. For now, Tamarod is divided over Egypt’s presidential candidates.

Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi

Egyptian Army Chief and Defense Minister Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s has not yet stated his candidacy for the presidency of Egypt. He is, however, widely tipped to be Egypt's next president. He has become  immensely popular after the military ouster of Mursi on 3 July 2013, following mass protests. Many Egyptians see Sisi as the strong leader who will stabilize the country in crisis.

Sabahi's campaign is likely to cross Al-Sisi's path. Both men use nationalism to bolster their support, and both men claim the legacy of the popular former Egyptian President Abdel Nassar. Hassan Nafaa, professor of political science at Cairo University, said Sabahi's decision to run for president could. encourage more candidates to run.

The election is expected as early as April.

Bron: Daily news Egypt, Al Arabiya, Al Abawa, Al Jazeera, The Guardian, Pan-African news wire, Reuters.

Author: Koen Migchelbrink

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