CAIRO: Although immense public support for Field Marshal Abdel Fatah al-Sisi suggests he might sweep the upcoming presidential elections, several alternative voices oppose the aspiring candidate and plan to send their votes elsewhere, if they vote at all.
Approaching the presidential elections in Egypt, a poll published March 16 by the Egyptian Center for Public Opinion Research (Baseera) reported that 51 percent of a sample of 2,062 respondents said they would vote for Sisi, while 41 percent were undecided.
Since the June 30 mass protests that ousted President Mohamed Morsi, Sisi has gained immense popularity in the Egyptian street. His pictures are seen everywhere, even on chocolate bars. Many Egyptians have compared him to former president Gamal Abdel Nasser and have called him a “hero” or the “savior” Egypt needs right now.
After a televised speech by him on Wednesday announcing his presidential bid, different media outlets welcomed the decision and people called for celebrations in the streets.
However, a various political reactions have gained momentum on social media following his candidacy, raising questions about who exactly might not vote for Sisi in the upcoming elections.
The position of the Muslim Brotherhood, designated as a “terrorist group” by the military-backed government, is not much of a surprise. The Brotherhood has persistently protested against the army and its leader Sisi, the post-June 30 government, and the Interior Ministry, as they raged against the toppling of their “legitimately elected president Mohamed Morsi.”
After Sisi announced his bid, the Brotherhood’s reactions were clear. Some of them claimed that Sisi would become president through “vote rigging,” and others thought he would not be able to achieve the people’s demands.
Post-June 30 Egypt has witnessed a prevailing scene of protests organized by the National Alliance to Support Legitimacy denouncing the detention of Brotherhood figures and students amid a campaign mounted by the state against the group. Further, if the group’s boycott of the January constitutional referendum is any sign of their future voting pattern, they might encourage people to abstain from voting altogether.
Pro-Brotherhood students, one category of those who will not support Sisi, have organized ongoing demonstrations at universities across Egypt; most prominently at Al-Azhar, Alexandria, and Cairo universities. During their protests, clashes took place between them, security forces and opposing students scoring deaths, injuries, detentions and dismissals.
As upheaval continues, the legitimacy alliance called Thursday for mass demonstrations titled “Together toward Salvation” on Friday following Sisi’s bid, saying in a release on its Facebook page, “[Sisi] betrayed the January 25 Revolution and broke the oath he gave elected President Mohamed Morsi by overthrowing him and placing the Egyptian army in a political struggle.”
The stance of the Popular Current is not surprising either, as its leader Hamdeen Sabbahi will run against Sisi in the presidential elections.
Besides the Popular Current, also the Socialist Popular Alliance Party (SPA) announced their support for Sabbahi, at least “so far,” the head of the alliance Abdel Ghaffar Shokr told Tahrir TV Channel on March 24.
The Tamarod movement, initiator of the “Rebel” campaign to withdraw Morsi that led to the June 30 demonstrations, appears divided. Several of its leading members declared their support for Sabbahi, while another faction within the movement backs Sisi.
This latter part of Tamarod announced it would stage demonstrations on Friday to celebrate Sisi‘s presidential bid and received a permit from the police to demonstrate throughout Egypt, said spokesperson Mohamed Nabawy.
The April 6 Youth Movement and the April 6 Democratic Front, separated over administrative differences, both refuse to support Sisi’s bid.
The spokesperson for April 6 Democratic Front, Sherif el-Rougy, told The Cairo Post Friday, “We refuse any military figure to run for president, especially Sisi.”
The April 6 Youth Movement said in a Wednesday statement on its Facebook page that “Sisi…is the military institution’s candidate,” adding that when Sisi announced his bid, he also confirmed that he was the leader of “the coup” and constitutes the counter-revolution.
Other parties, like the Revolutionary Path Front and the Dostour Party have officially rejected Sisi’s bid for president in a Thursday statement in Al-Ahram newspaper.
The front’s media coordinator Shaimaa Hamdy described Sisi’s candidacy as contradictory to the revolutionary demands that focus on building a civil state, while Dostour Party spokesperson Khaled Daoud assured that the party would support a civil candidate who belongs to January 25 Revolution.
2012 candidates Khaled Ali and the head of Misr Al-Qawia Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh have announced they would not run for president in the upcoming elections.
Ali said in a press conference on March 16 that he rejects the army’s interference in politics saying, “the army should protect and not rule, and its entrance into politics is dangerous for everyone.”
Misr Al-Qawia also described Sisi’s bid as a confirmation of the army’s interference in politics. The spokesperson of the party, Ahmed Imam, told Al-Ahram Wednesday that Sisi’s candidacy would increase the political crisis saying, “Who is part of the crisis, will not be able of solving it.”
There are parties still awaiting the official opening of the candidacy door to announce their positions, as their members are divided. One member of the supreme authority of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, Hossam Mostafa, told The Cairo Post Friday that the party had not made its decision, adding that an upcoming meeting will be held to discuss this matter.