President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi’s election campaign said that they are longing for real competition during the upcoming elections scheduled for March 26; however, it is not their responsibility to provide competitors.
“All of us inside the campaign, including President Sisi, hoped to compete with other candidates for the sake of democracy and for implementing the principle of ‘competitive pluralism’ during the elections,” Sisi’s legal representative Mohamed Bahaa el-Din Abu Shoka said to Egyptian TV presenter Amr Adeeb during his talk show “Kol Youm” Wednesday night.
He affirmed that even if President Sisi is the only presidential candidate in Egypt’s upcoming elections, it will still be “presidential elections” not a “referendum”.
“The law regulated the elections’ processes in case only one candidate announces his intention to run for presidency. Our strategy will undoubtedly be changed; however, we are completely ready for the elections in all cases,” Abu Shoka added.
He also denied all accusations that were claimed by withdrawn candidate Khaled Ali, who attributed his decision to the constraints imposed on his campaign by Sisi’s campaign. “This is the first time I hear such a thing,” Abu Shoka affirmed. He added that they are not responsible for providing presidential candidates; however, being the campaign of the “only candidate” was not their wish.
On January 19, President Sisi announced his candidacy for a second term in the 2018 presidential elections, which are scheduled to be held on from March 26 until March 28 for Egyptians residing in Egypt.
The announcement came during Sisi’s closing speech at the end of the three-day “Tale of a Homeland” conference, where the president and the Egyptian government presented an overview of projects and achievements made in different fields during the last four years.
Sisi also expressed his intention to run for president on his official Twitter account, calling on the Egyptian people to participate intensively in the upcoming elections by voting for whomever they see most eligible. Sisi won nearly by 97 percent of votes in the 2014 presidential elections.
A total of 850,000 endorsement forms have been signed by citizens for potential candidates, the National Election Authority (NEA) announced on January 22 in a press release without giving a breakdown of the signatures.
Any potential competitors?
Many wondered if President Sisi will have any potential competitors during the elections. Three candidates announced their intentions to run for presidency but for different reasons all of them held back.
The first candidate was former Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik who announced on November 29, 2017, his intentions to run for presidency.
However, on January 7, he published another statement on his Twitter account saying that he will not run for the upcoming elections as he thinks that “he is not the ideal candidate to lead the nation now.”
“By observing the reality, I have seen that I will not be the ideal person to lead the nation in the upcoming period; thus, I have decided not to run for president in the 2018 presidential elections,” Shafik announced.
The second candidate was veteran lawyer and human rights activist Khaled Ali, who has been considering retreating from the presidential elections for several days, and news about Ali’s withdrawal were published during the past few days on social media pages, but were later denied by Ali’s official campaign. Ali’s campaign eventually announced the news on January 24 in a press conference.
“We today announce our decision not to enter this race; we will not submit our candidacy papers,” Ali stated.
Ali’s presidential campaign director, Hala Fouda, said in statements to ON E channel on January 11 that they are witnessing excessive meetings to discuss the current political situation in order to reach a final evaluation and determine if Ali will be able to continue “under these stressful circumstances”.
Responding to host Amr Adeeb’s question as to if there is any possibility that they would withdraw from the race, Fouda said they do not intend to do so; however, if the government does not listen to their demands, and if they find the surrounding political environment does not give them an equal chance with their competitors, they will have to withdraw.
The final and third candidate who announced running for president on January 20, was former Armed Forces Chief of Staff Sami Anan. “I made my decision to present my candidacy papers to the National Electoral Commission as a presidential candidate, in accordance to the announced rules and dates by the commission,” Anan said.
However, three days later, Egypt’s authorities arrested him over charges of “forgery” as he “illegally” announced his intention to run for the 2018 presidential elections.
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) issued a statement explaining that Anan does not have military permission to terminate his service at the Armed Forces. For its part, the National Election Authority has excluded Anan’s name from the presidential race, having run illegally for the position.
Anan has “unprecedentedly” violated the rules of the Armed Forces, the statement added, saying that “In light of the announcement issued by Major General Sami Anan, who is still under the call-up service, regarding his candidacy for the post of the state president, the Armed Forces can never condone blatant legal violations committed by the abovementioned general against the rules and regulations of the military services.”
It was also explained in the statement that Anan’s announcement included “explicit incitement against the Armed Forces, aiming to cause discord between the Armed Forces and the Egyptian people.”
Anan served as Egypt’s army chief of staff and the second man in the Supreme Council of Armed Forces from 2005 until 2012, when he was forced to retire from his post by former President Mohamed Morsi.
According to Article 36 of the Egyptian presidential election law, if there is only one candidate in the presidential election, he must receive three million votes to win the election, which represents about 5 percent of the eligible voters in Egypt.
“Voting for electing the president of the republic shall be realized even if one single candidate has applied or even if he was the only candidate remaining due to the renunciation of the remaining candidates. In this case, this candidate shall be announced winner if he obtains 5 percent (five percent) of the total number of voters registered in the voter database. Should the candidate fail to obtain such percent, PEC shall announce opening candidacy for another election, within no more than 15 days from the date of announcing results. In this case, elections shall be conducted according to the provisions of this law,” Article 36 states.