CAIRO – 11 January 2018: As everything is almost set for Egypt’s 2018 presidential elections, people have started to talk about the possible candidates and who they will likely choose to lead the country for the coming four years.
Though the elections timing schedule has been announced, media coverage regulations have been determined and the needed documents for candidates, which they should issue to the National Electrical committee (NEC) to consider them as official candidates, have been clarified, no one yet knows for sure who the presidential candidates are.
However, three potential candidates have become the center of media coverage so far. Current president Abdel Fatah al-Sisi has not officially announced that he will run, however he succeeded to collect the support of 464 parliamentarians.
President Sisi... Candidate? Maybe
Out of 596 parliamentarians, 516 members, including Speaker Ali Abdel Aal, signed the recommendation forms to persuade President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi to run for a second presidential term in the 2018 elections scheduled for March.
“Since we received the recommendation forms at the Parliament headquarters, about 516 members of parliament signed it. We will continue receiving signatures during the coming period,” Counselor Mohamed Nouser, deputy secretary-general of Parliament said in statements to Egypt Today.
FILE - President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi
Also, “Alashan Tbneeha” (To Build It), a public campaign calling for President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi to run for a second term as the head of state, held its third press conference in December to announce the total number of signatures collected.
“The campaign collected 12,132,460 valid signatures, while a total of 239,361 signed forms were null and void,” announced one of the campaign’s founders, Mohamed al-Garhy.
“The campaign’s goal is to secure and protect our homeland, so it demands that President Sisi run in the upcoming presidential elections for a second term,” read the first press statement released by the To Build It campaign.
Khaled Ali.. as yet unsure
After officially announcing his intentions to run for the 2018 presidency elections on November 6, Veteran lawyer and Human rights activist Khaled Ali might be considering retracting his decision.
Ali’s presidential elections campaign director, Hala Fouda said in statements to ONE channel on Tuesday night 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”.
Lawyer and Human rights activist Khaled Ali during press conference November 6, 2017 - Photo by Amr Moustafa
Responding to Host Amr Adib’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 did not listen to their demands, and if they found the surrounding political environment does not give them an equal chance with their competitors they will have to withdraw.
“Khaled Ali announced his intentions to run for presidency officially on November 6, 2017. Also about 10 days ago, we held another press conference to announce our demands to the government that we think will achieve the principle of equal opportunities,” Fouda stated. She explained that these demands included canceling the emergency law, unblocking newspaper websites, allowing freedom of press and allowing a proper period for each candidate’s program.
None of the demands were responded by any of the state’s officials according to Fouda. On contrary, On January 9, Parliament approved extending the state of emergency in the country for three months as of January 13, 2018.
Ali’s campaign director also affirmed that some of the campaign’s members and activists known for their support for Ali have been recently targeted by security forces, and some of them have even been imprisoned.
“Previously, we could not even find a place to hold our press conferences. Until now, we cannot find a place to rent as a campaign headquarters because people are afraid to deal with us as possible presidency competitors,” Fouda said.
She also noted that the campaign monitored some of the illegal practices used against them and regarding the elections process as a whole during the past period. “We will file formal complaints and will announce them at the right time.”
Fouda denied that any of the Real Estate Registration Office employees refused to write petitions to authorize their candidate to run for presidency.
She affirmed that they have been working on the campaign now for almost a year; however if they found that they cannot work properly, it is possible that they might rescind Ali’s candidacy.
Lawyer and Human activist Khaled Ali was formally a presidential candidate during the 2012 elections; however he got only 134,056 votes, according to a NEC statement.
Ahmed Shafik... He believes he is not the “ideal person”
On November 29, 2017, former Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik told Reuters that he intends to run for president in the upcoming 2018 election.
Egypt's former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik speaks during an interview with Reuters at his residence in Abu Dhabi February 6, 2013. REUTERS/Jumana El Heloueh/File Photo
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 on Sunday.
Shafik, 76, traveled to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in 2012 following his loss in the presidential elections to the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, Mohamed Morsi. He returned last November revealing his intent to run again for president.
“I believe that my absence for more than five years had kept me away from the accurate follow-up to the developments and achievements in our home land, despite the violence and terrorism,” Shafik explained through his tweet.
In 2013, the Criminal Court acquitted Shafik from various accusations over illegitimate land selling and corruption; he was removed from the arrival watch list in November 2016.
Voting in the 2018 presidential elections in Egypt will start on March 26, as announced by the National Electoral committee (NEC) on Monday, January 8. Sixty million eligible voters will cast their ballots in the election on March 26-28 in Egypt, while expatriates will vote on March 16-18.
In a press conference held by NEC Chairman Lasheen Ibrahim on Monday, he affirmed that the final list of the candidates will be announced on February 24, noting that the deadline for any candidate to retract will be on March 1. The primary results of the first round of the elections will be announced on March 29, after decisions on appeals submitted by candidates, if any, will be made.
The final results of the first round will be announced on April 2.
If no candidate obtains the majority of votes, a three-day run-off round will commence in Egypt on April 24, and on April 19 abroad.
“The name of the winning candidate will be announced on May 1,” Ibrahim stated.
The NEC previously announced that presidential candidates will have a ceiling of LE 20 million to spend on their electoral campaign in the first round, while they are only permitted to spend LE 5 million in the run-off round.
Incumbent President Sisi is the sixth president of Egypt. He came to office in June 2014 after the June 30 Revolution, which toppled former President Mohamed Morsi, who is affiliated with the now-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.
According to Article 140 of the Egyptian Constitution, electoral procedures should begin a minimum of 120 days before the end of the current presidential term and the president-elect should be announced a minimum of 30 days before the end of the previous president’s term, which ends in June.
Electoral procedures consist of receiving and scrutinizing applications and appeals, as well as setting the electoral lists and campaign regulations.
Now, as we know, Ali is yet to confirm if he is going to make it to the elections, former Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik reversed his previous decision to run for presidency, saying he is not the "ideal person" to lead the nation at the moment. And President Abdel Fatah al Sisi has not announced anything yet, so who will compete with whom next March?