April 17, 2014
The Road to Presidential Elections [Update 3]
The Presidential Election Committee (PEC) has finalized the voters’ lists, with 53 million eligible voters in Egypt, and 309,000 abroad, while on April 9, it also modified the candidate qualification process. It no longer requires candidates to submit their nomination application in person. The process can now be completed by a legal representative of the nominee.
Two new candidates have joined the race, and are currently collecting the required 25,000 signatures to submit their applications. The PEC will release a final list of candidates on April 20.
Bothaina Kamel’s Platform: Women’s Rights
On April 13, Bothaina Kamel announced her intention to run in the presidential elections. She had planned to run in the 2012 elections, but was unable to secure the then 30,000 required signatures, 5,000 more than what is required in the 2014 elections. Kamel said she did not intend to run, but had bowed to pressure from women’s rights organizations calling for her nomination.
A prominent journalist, activist and outspoken critic of Hosni Mubarak, Kamel worked for Egypt’s state TV and private media, but was taken off the air on several occasions, the most recent of which was in 2011. Planning to air a story on Mubarak’s wealth on the Saudi channel Orbit, her program was yanked half an hour before it was to be aired.
(Photo: Hossam El-Hamalawy)
Kamel is a co-founder of the Shayfencom movement, a grassroots organization that has monitored elections in Egypt since 2005. Following Mubarak’s ouster, she was openly critical of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and its stewardship of the country prior to Mohamed Morsi’s election. In October 2013, Kamel, a critic of the Muslim Brotherhood as well, told Aswat Masriya that she was attacked by Muslim Brotherhood supporters.
While the Salafi Call has requested meeting with all presidential hopefuls, in order to decide who they will ultiamtely support, leading member Yasser Borhamy said that they have no plans to meet with Kamel as they do not believe women are capable of ruling.
Samira Ibrahim, a female protester who accused the army of conducting virginity tests on detained women in 2011, is the spokesperson for Kamel’s campaign. Kamel’s campaign will focus on women’s rights.
Mortada Mansour’s Platform: Egypt’s Prestige
On April 6, Mortada Mansour announced his intention to run in the upcoming presidential elections. A lawyer by profession, he also recently won the Zamalek Football Club’s presidential elections. Since his announcement, Mansour has reportedly come under pressure from the club to withdraw from the race. On April 16, Mansour announced that due to pressure from club members and staff, he would announce on April 19 whether he would remain in the race.
Since announcing his intended bid, Mansour has elaborated on his positions and plans if he were to win the race. His overall aim as president would be to restore Egypt’s international standing, and improving living conditions for Egyptian citizens.
His plans include a ban on Facebook and Twitter, if they pose a threat to national security. He said he would also ban alcohol, serving it only to foreigners in hotels. He has also called for an end to protests and sit-ins, until Egypt is able to recover both economically and politically.
His foreign policy plans include declaring war on Ethiopia, if it does not cooperate with Egypt on the controversial Renaissance Dam, ending the aid relationship with the United States, and cancelling the Camp David Peace Treaty with Israel. He has openly accused the United States of meddling in Egypt’s affairs, as well as accusing Germany, France and Britain of doing the United States’ bidding. He also said, as president, he would improve Egypt’s relations with all countries, including Russia, China and Iran.
Other issues he has addressed since announcing his bid, include poverty (which he linked directly to terrorism), traffic regulations, and general enforcement of the law.
Mansour was one of several candidates who planned to run in the 2012 presidential elections but was disqualified from the race by the Presidential Elections Committee, for what he said were “unknown” reasons. He served a member of parliament in 2000, while losing three parliamentary races, the most recent of which was in 2012. He was also a defendant in the ‘Battle of the Camel’ trial in 2011, but was cleared of the charges, after spending just over two weeks in prison.
A controversial personality, Mansour has filed lawsuits against members of the Muslim Brotherhood and the media, as well as the Egyptian High Council of Sports (EHC). His lawsuit against the EHC was a result of their attempt to impeach him, when at the time, as Zamalek President, he was caught on tape verbally attacking a football player from a rival team. He also filed a lawsuit against satirist Bassem Youssef on behalf of talkshow host Emad Adeeb.
Mansour’s presidential slogan is “Let’s love Egypt.”
Abdel Fattah al-Sisi: First to Submit Application
On April 16, the campaign of former army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said it collected 500,000 signatures, 475,000 more than the required number. They added, however, that only 190,000 signatures were submitted to the PEC. Sisi’s legal advisor Mohamed Bahaa Abu Shoqqa said they chose to submit only 190,000 as they did not wish to “show off.”
According to the PEC, the selection of the symbol used in the electoral process is given in order of priority. According to Egyptian talk show host, Amr Adib, Sisi’s campaign has chosen either the sun or the lion as its symbol.
Sisi is expected to deliver a speech after April 20 in which he will announce the details of his platform on issues including the economy, social justice, education, health, national projects and the development impoverished villages and slums. Sources from within his campaign have also indicated that Sisi is considering participating in candidate debates.
Sisi has met with tribal leaders from over 240 tribes from Sinai, the Delta and the Western Desert, as well as with Sufi leaders who have endorsed his presidential bid.
Hamdeen Sabbahi: Finalizes Collection of Signatures
Hamdeen Sabbahi’s campaign has continued to complain of violations faced during the process of collecting signatures. With only 72 hours left for the collection of signatures, Hamdeen Sabbahi's campaign announced it had succeeded in collecting 30,000 signatures. The campaign collected 5,000 more than required, securing at least 1,000 signatures in eighteen governorates. Prior to the news of the campaign finalizing its efforts, anonymous sources told Egyptian daily Al-Masry al-Youm that Sisi supporters submitted forms for Sabbahi in order to "allow him to participate in the elections."
An attempt by the Sabbahi campaign to lodge an official complaint in person against a perceived bias shown by government officials towards Sisi was dismissed by the cabinet. Consequently, the campaign said it would re-send the complaint to the cabinet and to the electoral committee.
Since announcing his presidential bid, Sabbahi has called for the release of activists who were instrumental in the January 2011 uprising. He also made the call via Twitter, referring by name to activist Ahmed Douma who has been sentenced to three years in prison charges of violating Egypt’s new protest law.
أدعو المستشار عدلي منصور لقرار عفو فوري عن أحمد دومة وشباب الثورة المحبوس بتهمة التظاهر.— حمدين صباحي (@HamdeenSabahy) April 7, 2014
Douma, on the other hand, has called for Sabbahi to withdraw from the race, according to his lawyer.
Finally, the liberal Constitution Party, founded by Mohamed ElBaradei and now headed by Hala Shukrallah, announced its support for Sabbahi, joining Sabbahi’s own Karama Party and Popular Current in backing the candidate.
To date, the European Union (EU) and the Arab League (AL) have announced that they will monitor the upcoming presidential elections.
During her visit to Cairo in April, EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton’s visit concluded an agreement with Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy, for EU observers to monitor the elections. After leaving Cairo Ashton said, “I am very pleased that the European Union is sending an electoral observation mission for the elections and I agreed that with Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy while I was there.”
She added, “I was only able to see one candidate because logistical reasons prevented me from doing any more than that, but I did spent some hours with Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and talked with him. My big message to Egypt is and always was the same: this is a strong partnership; 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 Arab League also signed a memorandum of understanding with Egypt on April 16 to monitor the elections.
The PEC has also received applications from another twelve NGOs to monitor the elections.