Sabbahi: I will pardon prisoners of conscience if elected
Hamdeen Sabbahi - YOUM7/Osama Mohamed
By RANY MOSTAFA

CAIRO: Presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi promised on Saturday to pardon all prisoners of conscience if elected as president.

“Prisons in Egypt are a place for terrorists, criminals and those who incite violence, and no one should be detained in Egypt for his opinion,” said Sabbahi in his 14 minutes pre-recorded speech, aired on State television on Saturday.

The Nasserist candidate revealed the highlights of his electoral program and stated that it will focus on radical reform to eradicate decades of nepotism, failure and corruption in Egypt.

Ahead of Egypt’s presidential elections, scheduled to be held on May 26 and 27, the leftist politician, who came third in the 2012 presidential elections, launched his campaign Saturday from the Upper Egypt governorate of Asyut.

Sabbahi further stated that if he is elected as president, he would annul the controversial protest law.

“I will put an end to the unfair protest law and I will re-issue a law that regulates, rather than bans peaceful protesting and gathering,” said Sabbahi.

He further underlined the necessity of achieving the ideals of the January 25 Revolution, including social justice, human dignity, and national independence, along with the implementation of “law enforcement” and “the eradication of any type of discrimination.”

He also pointed out the necessity of the army’s withdrawal from “the political and electoral conflicts” and the need to develop it to fulfill its role of defending the country.

“The policies that were present under Mubarak are the same policies present now” under the military-installed regime, said Sabbahi who added that his program is based on regaining the people’s trust to overturn the policies of tyranny and poverty.

He said that he endeavors to establish a transitional justice that will achieve retribution for the victims of the revolution.

Sabbahi further asserted that Egypt will be able to secure its share in the Nile River water by cooperating with and respecting the Nile Basin countries’ rights to development.

“I will do my best to establish a regional entity for the Nile Basin countries that is based on mutual interests,” said Sabbahi

Furthermore, he added that he respects all treaties and agreements signed by the Egyptian State, but Egypt retains the right to change its commitments if its national security is threatened.

Sabbahi concluded his speech by expressing his hope for “an honorable competition with no backstabbing or personal conflicts,” in reference to the presidential campaign and his rival Abdel Fatah al-Sisi.

Sabbahi’s electoral campaign called for equal opportunity and criticized the “media bias” after State television aired the speech of Abdel Fatah al-Sisi in March, following his resignation from the army in order to run for president.

The Egyptian Center for Public Opinion Research “Baseera” conducted a public opinion poll on Egyptians’ voting trends in the forthcoming presidential elections.

Responding to the question concerning preference for either of the two candidates, 72 percent of the respondents said that they will back Sisi, while only two percent said they will back Sabbahi. Twenty-two percent were undecided, three percent refused to respond and one percent said they would nullify their vote.

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