April 1, 2014
The Road to Presidential Elections [Update 2]
The Presidential Elections Commission (PEC) - the judicial body overseeing the elections, announced on March 30, the timetable for presidential elections. The registration period opened on March 30, while the first round of voting will take place on May 26 and 27. Results will be announced on June 5, and in the event of a run-off, voting will take place on June 16 and 17. Final election results will then be announced on June 26. For a full list of the dates, see the infographic below:
Click here for an enlarged version of the infographic
At present time, it appears there are only two presidential candidates: former army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, and head of the leftist Popular Current, Hamdeen Sabbahi.
Abdel Fattah al-Sisi
Abdel Fattah al-Sisi officially announced both his resignation as defense minister and his intention to run for president in a single speech addressing the nation on March 26. Colonel General Sedki Sobhi replaces Sisi as minister of defense.
In his speech, which he delivered wearing his uniform for the last time, Sisi said “ I will always consider myself a soldier charged with serving the nation in any capacity ordered by the Egyptian people.” The full transcript of the speech in English can be found here. Sisi’s speech was aired on national television, while a transcript was also posted on the official army spokesman’s Facebook page in English, Arabic and French.
He has since launched his official campaign, sharing its online presence with a website, as well as on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram. His official campaign slogan is ‘Long live Egypt.’ The tweet below reads: Welcome to the official Twitter account for presidential candidate, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
Through these accounts, images of Sisi on Tuesday taking the medical tests required to run for presidency have also been shared.
On Monday, however, Ahram Online reported that the Presidential Elections Commission announced that Sisi’s legal delegate had not been able to collect an official candidate application form because of incomplete documents. These documents are likely the 25,000 signatures endorsing the candidate are required in order to apply. Other necessary documents include the candidate’s financial disclosure, birth certificate, and university graduation certificate.
Reactions to Sisi’s candidacy have varied, a full list of which can be found here.
The first candidate to announce his intention to run, Hamdeen Sabbahi already has an established online presence on Twitter, Facebook. Launching his 2014, campaign, Sabbahi’s slogan is “One of us.”
The campaign on the ground has seen Sabbahi’s supporters take to the street to form human chains.
The Sabbahi campaign has been critical of several issues that have arisen since Sisi’s announcement.
First, following Sisi’s announcement on national TV, Sabbahi’s campaign contacted Egypt’s state television in order to secure a similar opportunity for their presidential candidate.
Second, with the announcement of the timeline, Sabbahi’s campaign criticized what it called a short campaigning period. According to the timeline laid out by the PEC, campaigning, expected to take place nationwide, will take place over an official period of twenty days.
Third, with the registration period open and potential presidential candidates collecting signatures endorsing their run, Sabbahi’s campaign said that violations occurred on the first day. According to a statement from his campaign, some registration forms were processed in the absence of their signatories, and that signatories for a “certain candidate” were brought to notary offices in private buses. The campaign also accused several employees at notary offices of refusing to accept forms from signatories endorsing Sabbahi.
On March 29, Ahram Online published an interview with Sabbahi in which he said he would withdraw from the race if the fairness of the elections is called into question. Sabbahi said:
“There are several more stages to come. If what started with immunisation continues — like, for example, limiting our ability to collect signatures or contact people, or being confronted by the state’s iron fist working for the benefit of a certain candidate — we will then need to reassess [our choice to participate]. If we find that we are struggling in circumstances that would allow us democratic elections we will continue, but if we find circumstances similar to that of 2010 (the November parliamentary elections)*, which goes beyond the limit of the kind of fraud we expect and are mindful of in Egypt, we will then reconsider our current stand.”
Watch Ahram Online’s interview with Sabbahi below:
The presidency gave a final statement on the elections law on March 23, saying that it “cannot respond” to proposed amendments of the law. The main amendment that was requested was a change to Article 7 which immunizes the Supreme Presidential Elections Commission’s decisions against appeals.
The international response to Egypt’s presidential elections has been limited to two countries - the United States and Russia.
United States: On March 27, in a State Department press briefing, spokesperson Marie Harf said:
“We do not support individual candidates or individual parties. It is up to the people of Egypt to determine their future. And we have also repeatedly said that as the people of Egypt go to the polls to do that, it must be in a climate that’s free from intimidation, where people feel they can vote for and support whatever party and whatever candidate they want to. And we have raised concerns with the interim Egyptian Government about the ability for citizens to freely express their opinions, most recently, of course, with these mass convictions of people with death sentences, but for many, many months now. So as the election process moves forward, we will continue to urge the Egyptian Government to do so in a manner that is free, fair, transparent, where candidates are able to campaign freely – any candidates are able to campaign freely – without fear of harassment or intimidation.”
When asked about Sisi’s potential victory, she added “We will work with who the people of Egypt decide should be the leader of Egypt.”
Russia: Prior to Sisi’s official announcement, Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed his support for Sisi’s candidacy during an official trip to Russia. Putin told Sisi:
“I know that you, mister defense minister, have decided to run for president of Egypt. I wish you luck both from myself personally and from the Russian people.”
Read the first part of the Road to Presidential Elections series here.