CAIRO: The presidential campaign of former Minister of Defense Abdel Fatah al-Sisi’s campaign has dwarfed that of his challenger Hamdeen Sabbahi, first in the expatriate voting, garnering 94.5 percent of ballots, and now in overall campaign spending.
The run-up to Monday and Tuesday’s elections, Egypt’s second following the 2011 January 25 Revolution― has seen streets plastered with posters for the Sisi, yet the source of his campaign funds and bank accounts remain a mystery.
Sabbahi’s campaign raised around 700,000 EGP ($ 98,000) and spent about 500,000 EGP for campaigning nationwide said Ahmed Sabry, the head of the Sabbahi campaign’s fundraising team, in an interview with The Cairo Post Friday.
The amount of fundraising in this campaign is “very small” compared with what his campaign collected for his 2012 presidential bid, according to Sabbahi on May 8 in his first media interview of the official campaign. He said his previous campaign raised 5 million EGP (US$ 701,015) and asked Sisi to reveal his funding sources and bank accounts.
Sisi’s campaign announced it had spent 12 million EGP on the elections as of May 12; 6 million EGP on conferences and the rest on advertising according to Sisi campaign advertisement advisor Tarek Nour, the head of TarekNour Communication Co. in an interview with Aswat Masriya.
The campaign contracted with Animation Advertising Co., owned by Mohamed al-Saidi for campaigning, Nour added.
Sisi said in his last interview before the end of campaigning Friday that he asked his campaigners to spend as little money as possible.
According to article 22 of the Presidential Election Law, campaign funding is capped at 20 million EGP for the first round of elections and 5 million EGP should there be a runoff. This is in stark contrast to the 2012 election budget, which allowed less than half of that: only 10 million EGP for the first round and 2 million EGP for the runoff.
“We already have a bank account for raising funds in accordance with the law; the total amount of fundraising will be announced after the end of the elections,” Sabry told The Cairo Post. There are some people giving in-kind donations and the majority of Sabbahi’s supporters are from the youth, he continued.
“We did not contract with any company for promoting,” Sabry noted.
Sabbahi’s bank account number is available online for donors, while Sisi’s official campaign page has no bank account information. However, the legal advisor in Sisi’s campaign, Mohamed Bahaa el-Din Abu Shaqah said during a May 22 talk show interview on al-Hayat channel that a bank account was created in accordance with election law.
He said Sisi’s campaign asked the bank not to take any donations without an official approval from campaign officials. “The campaign is not responsible for the surplus of the funds for its campaigning as long as they are donated from popular activists,” he added.
The Cairo Post tried to contact the Sisi campaign for comment on its bank account information and fundraising, but Abu Shaqah declined to comment and an official in the campaign call Center office said no information on Sisi’s bank accounts was available.
The political Independence Current used a plane to promote Sisi in Upper Egypt.; the aircraft flew over Fayoum, Beni Suef, Minya, Asyut, Sohag and Qena and dropped Egyptian flags onto the areas it flew over May 15, according to media reports.
However, a judicial source told Al-Shorouq newspaper on May 18 that the helicopter was included in the campaigning budget despite the fact Sisi campaign officials denied responsibility for this kind of propaganda.
Article 19 of the Presidential Elections Law bans candidates from using facilities and vehicles belonging to the government.
According to Tarek Nour, the campaign put only 30 banners over Cairo and other advertising banners are from the people.
The elections will conclude Tuesday, with final results announced on June 5.