Egypt’s up-to-the-minute political debate backfires at Sabbahi
Hamdeen Sabbahi - YOUM7/Osama Mohamed
By AMIRA EL-FEKKI

 

CAIRO: “If Egyptians are seeking a man of state, they certainly do not want a statesman. Becoming a statesman does not mean belonging to a regime people overthrew twice in three years,” Hamdeen Sabbahi, presidential candidate and head of the Popular Current Party, tweeted on Saturday morning.

His words sparked disagreement, as people began replying to the thread and accusing Sabbahi of being part of the regime the people revolted against.

“You are right. People don’t want someone who once cooperated with the Muslim Brotherhood and helped a mob rule over Egypt, and you are the first one to have done that,” tweeted Amy el-Sokary.

Others picked on Sabbahi’s insinuation to Field Marshal Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, mocking his statements by publishing links to previous videos where Sabbahi had declared his full support for Sisi.

“Who was part of two ousted systems? Wasn’t Sisi a patriotic man two months ago? How would people believe you anymore?” wrote MdEsawy.

According to political sociology professor Mohamed Sayed Ahmed, one of the main mistakes the state committed following June 30 was to bring back public and media figures, as well as politicians from Hosni Mubarak’s regime, to the political scene. This increased people’s skepticism about the restoration of the “same old system,” al-Mashahd online newspaper reported Friday.

Controversy was triggered when leading members of Mubarak’s regime, mainly from the former National Democratic Party, made several public appearances during the draft period of the constitution in January. Public discontent had previously erupted when the judiciary did not convict many of them, including police officers allegedly involved in the killing of protesters back in January 2011.

Sisi’s supporters have spoken of his determination not to recur to “icons of the former regime.” What Sisi himself had said during his last speech, in which he announced his candidacy in presidential elections, is that there would be no “exclusion” from political life for those who have not been convicted by the court.

Such figures include current Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab and Amr Moussa, the president of the 50-member committee responsible for writing the new constitution. However, the constitution passed in a public referendum last January, which claims to have established the January 25 Revolution and June 30 as foundations of the new state.

The old regime will not return when there is a new system able to fill in the void and cleverly rely on those who were part of the old regime without being involved in corruption, because the real challenge is to build a new system that would gradually break up the old one, political thinker and writer Amr al-Shobky wrote in Al-Masry al-Youm on March 15.

Meanwhile, several media outlets claim Sisi is also part of both ousted systems. BBC published a report calling Sisi the “new face of Egypt’s old guard,” which traces his career back to both former regime, that of Hosni Mubarak and Mohamed Morsi.

“At present, he is relying on the military, other elements of the deep state and Mubarak-era technocrats to manage his campaign […] balancing off the various political parties and forces under him while relying on the deep state for the essence of his rule,” the article stated.

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