CAIRO: Presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi respects Khaled Ali’s decision to withdraw from the elections and hopes that Ali’s supporters back him in the race, Sabbahi told Al-Shorouq on Sunday.
The drop in the number of presidential candidates in the coming elections concerns many politicians.
Ali is only the most recent to back out of the race, saying on Sunday the coming elections were a “farce.” Two other presidential hopefuls have also announced they will not run. Former Chief of Staff of the Egyptian Armed Forces Lieutenant General Samy Anan dropped out of the running on March 13, and in February, head of the Strong Egypt party Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh said he would abstain from the election.
Sabbahi is currently the only candidate who has officially said he would run. However, Minister of Defense Abdel Fatah al-Sisi is also expected to run but has not officially declared his candidacy.
“It’s not acceptable for a minister of defense to run for the presidency,” he said, and called on military leaders to stay out of politics, and to “open the door for democracy,” Ali said March 13 while announcing his withdrawal.
Indicators show that Sisi will run, professor of political science at Cairo University Hassan Nafaa told Youm7 on Monday, but at the same time, Sabbahi could withdraw at any moment, raising concerns that a number of candidates might drop out of the presidential race, which would “turn the elections into a referendum.”
Nafaa said the candidacy has still not officially opened, so there is still a possibility that a large number of candidates could join the election.
It is too early to say if the election will be a race between two candidates – Sisi and Sabbahi – said leader of the National Salvation Front, Wahed Abdel Megeed, to Youm7 on Sunday, since candidacy has not been officially opened and another candidates may still enter.
Political analyst Amr Hashem said on Monday that the coming elections would be stronger when the number of the candidates increases, adding that after the withdrawal of Ali, Defense Minister Sisi may win by 75 or 80 percent.
Secretary-general of Egyptian Democratic Party Ahmed Fawzy told Youm7 on Monday that the withdrawal of Ali is “a strong democratic transition” that show Egypt is “walking in the wrong path,” adding that the presidency should study the reasons Ali withdrew from the race.
He said that the reasons Ali withdrew were many and were not restricted to the immunity granted to the Supreme Electoral Committee (SEC), the legal boy that drafted the Presidential Election Law that regulates candidacy and voting procedures.
The law, issued on March 8 by the SEC, raised a great deal of controversy because it essentially grants immunity to SEC decisions, a move that Nafaa said contradicts article 67 of the 2014 constitution.
Other political parties criticized Ali’s decision to drop out.
According to Al-Wafd, the head of Al-Arada Al-masria (Egyptian Will) Party, Mahmoud Marzouk condemned in a Sunday statement Ali’s description of the presidential race a “farce.” Marzouk said that political activist Ali withdrew because he “knew his real size” and that he “will obtain no votes to speak of” as in the past election where he garnered only tens of thousands votes.
Furthermore, a leader at Tagammu Party told ONTV channel on Monday that Ali “insulted” those running for the presidency, including Sabbahi, making him look like he is either “deceiving people or has been deceived.”
Additionally reporting by Alaa Essam.