CAIRO: Presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi says he still believes he can win the presidential election despite early expat voting results showing his opponent, Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi, with over 90 percent of the vote.
But despite this optimism, Sabbahi said in an interview with Lebanese newspaper Al-Safeer Tuesday, “I will resume working to achieve the objectives of Egypt’s revolution as part of the national opposition if I fail to win the presidential election.”
Sabbahi’s comment has stirred up debate over his future role in Egyptian politics should he fail to win the presidential race.
Mahmoud Nawar, founder of the socialist Badil Movement, said Sisi will win the presidency, while Sabbahi will form a strong front to lead the opposition. Nawar added in a statement to The Cairo Post Wednesday that Sabbahi’s decision to run for the presidency will present the Sisi government with serious opposition and provide a vision for social and economic matters.
He added, “It is important that Sisi not achieve a landslide victory in order to reflect the strength of the front opposing military rule.”
However, there are those who say Sabbahi’s role will be irrelevant following a Sisi victory.
Adel Soliman, the head of the International Center for Strategic Studies said that Sabbahi’s statements are just a scripted skit and he will not be able to present serious opposition against a future Sisi-led “military dictatorship” government.
“Sabbahi made his decision to run for president to provide legitimacy to an illegitimate process,” Soliman told The Cairo Post.
He added that Sabbahi was part of what he described as a “military coup” because he didn’t say Egyptian authorities were responsible for killing protesters in the Rabaa al-Adaweya and Nahda Square sit-ins.
Sabbahi refused to describe what happened in Rabaa al-Adaweya as a massacre during his interview with MBC satellite channel last week, saying, “Leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood should bear the responsibility of the bloodshed witnessed in the squares.”
But regardless of the final results of the presidential election, Sabbahi supporters say their candidate has not been given a fair shot in the race by the military-backed government.
Heba Yassin, a member of Sabbahi’s campaign, blamed the media for the decline in Sabbahi’s popularity among expat Egyptians.
She said in a statement to The Cairo Post that state institutions have not been neutral in dealing with the presidential candidates and the government pushed Egyptians abroad to vote for Sisi. Yassin’s comments correspond with Sabbahi’s complaints that the government adopted a biased position on the presidential elections.
Yassin added, however, that the presidential elections have not ended, Egyptians should participate en masse and that the results of the election abroad do not reflect the popularity of her candidate.