SOHAG, Egypt: After a near-complete withdrawal from the public sphere following the January 25 Revolution and one year presidency of Mohamed Morsi, members of the dissolved National Democratic Party in the Upper Egyptian city of Sohag have re-emerged, in banners flooding the governorate in support for presidential candidate Abdel Fatah al-Sisi.
Former NDP parliamentarian Hazem Hammadi, a former office in the State Security Investigations (SSI) associated with torture and human rights abuse, is one of the NDP leaders whom an Egyptian court banned from running for elections May 6, according to Youm7.
Hammadi has already appealed the ruling, perhaps in hopes for running for the parliamentary elections. He descends from a very powerful family with several parliamentarians and state officials, and had strong relations with late Azhar Sheikh Mohamed Sayed Tantawy and late Pope Shenouda.
A massive banner with Hammadi’s and Sisi’s pictures is seen held outside the gate of his mansion overlooking the Nile River, among other banners across the governorate.
Although Hammadi was the head of the human rights committee in the Egyptian parliament from 2005-2010, the head of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights Hafez Abu Seda accused Hammadi on Rotana Masreya channel in December 2011 of torturing him in 1986.
Sohag is governed by powerful tribes and families, and each family can direct a large bloc of voters towards a specific candidate. Those influential families are widely believed among residents of Sohag to run businesses underground, including drugs and arms.
Another powerful family in Sohag is that of Mazen Abou el-Nour, who was not banned by the court, despite being a former NDP parliamentarian. He is a prominent trader and is part of an unofficial campaign in favor of Sisi. Numerous banners with both his and Sisi’s pictures can be seen in major streets in the governorate.
Former NDP parliamentarian Ahmed Abou Hejji is not banned and is a prominent trader, especially in the fishing in Nasser Lake south of Egypt. He is the political rival of Abou el-Nour, and his pro-Sisi banners are also seen across the governorate.
Also former Assistant to the Minister of Interior Mamdouh Meqled is seen on several banners alongside Sisi’s picture in banners that call for voting for the former Minister of Defense.
Other personalities that only emerged after the ouster of Morsi are relatively young, but have accumulated fortunes from sources unknown to the residents of Sohag, such as Atef Abou Jaqna and Khaled Abou Naeem. Several banners with their names and pictures are held across the governorate in support of Sisi.
The presidential elections are scheduled to take place May 26 and 27.
Additional reporting by Hanan Fayed.