With three of the presidential hopefuls from 2012 languishing in jail pending trials, and a fourth deceased, the political plans and presidential ambitions of most of the remaining candidates remain unknown.
A number of presidential candidates from 2012 are reportedly awaiting Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s move to finally put the issue regarding his candidacy to rest. Sisi is widely expected to eclipse most — if not all — of the other presidential hopefuls should he choose to run.
The Higher Elections Commission (HEC) cleared 13 out of 23 candidates to run in the 2012 elections, none of which were female or representative of any of Egypt’s ethnic or religious minorities. It is unlikely that any of them would succeed in nominating themselves for this year’s presidential race.
With presidential elections slated to take place before parliamentary elections, questions arise regarding where these hopefuls are now, and what their political plans and/or presidential ambitions are.
By late 2011 and early 2012, the Muslim Brotherhood emerged as Egypt’s ruling party. The group had initially claimed they would not field a presidential candidate, yet ended up proposing two: Khairat al-Shater and Mohamed Morsi.
This list aims to revisit the candidates of 2012 and examine what differences a year, a president’s ouster and a new government have made.
Announced presidential winner on June 24, 2012, Morsi assumed office four days later. However, despite having three years left of his term in office as the first elected civilian president of Egypt, Morsi is now behind bars facing at least four trials.
He faces charges of espionage, collaboration with foreign powers, breaking out of prison on January 28, 2011, insulting the judiciary, and responsibility for the killing of protesters outside Ettehadiya Presidential Palace in December 2012.
Morsi may face the death penalty or life imprisonment if convicted.
He is the second deposed president, after Hosni Mubarak, to stand trial. However, Morsi has been subjected to additional restraints while facing trial — including being held in a soundproof glass-encased cage.
Morsi’s reign was the shortest in Egypt’s history. He is the only president in 62 years not to come from the military establishment.
While in office, Morsi handpicked Sisi as a replacement for Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi in the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), promoting him to the post of defense minister.
In essence, Morsi may have been the “king-maker” of Egypt’s 2014 presidential elections.
Derogatorily known as “Al-stebn” (‘the spare tire’) amongst his opponents, Morsi was the Brotherhood’s backup candidate, after initially fielding Khairat al-Shater as their chief presidential nominee.
The Brotherhood’s deputy supreme guide, and chief financier, Shater was fielded as the main candidate for the Muslim Brotherhood. However, he was disqualified on the basis of a conviction on criminal charges during Mubarak’s rule. Shater is facing a number of trials on charges similar to those filed against Morsi.
Hazem Salah Abu Ismail
This Salafi preacher and ultra-conservative candidate enjoyed massive popularity amongst Islamists. However, like Shater, Abu Ismail was disqualified from the race, as his mother held dual Egyptian-American citizenship.
Abu Ismail is facing a host of charges, including insulting the judiciary — for which he was sentenced to one year in prison — along with identity fraud, inciting violence against protesters at the Ettehadiya Palace, among others charges.
Mohamed Selim al-Awa
The moderate Islamist intellectual and lawyer Awa came in sixth place during the presidential elections. He was primarily backed by the moderate Islamist Wasat Party.
After losing in the elections, Awa became one of Morsi’s presidential advisors. In January this year, Awa accepted a position as defense lawyer for the ousted president.
However, rumors are currently circulating claiming that Awa seems to have changed his mind and pulled out of the defense team. He is yet to confirm or deny these claims.
Egypt’s top intelligence chief under Mubarak, his first and last vice president, Suleiman sought to nominate himself as president, yet was disqualified for failing to collect enough signatures required for the nomination.
Suleiman died in the United States in July 2012.
Egypt’s presidential runner up, Shafiq won just over 48 percent of the vote in the second round of elections. Shafiq was a member of Mubarak’s inner-ruling circle, serving as his minister of civil aviation and his last prime minister.
During his presidential campaign, he reiterated that he was a technocrat and not “feloul” (a loyal remnant of the Mubarak regime).
Shafiq moved, some would say fled, with family members to the United Arab Emirates shortly after losing in the presidential elections. He faced a number of criminal charges under Morsi’s regime, yet most of these charges have been dropped.
Some opposition activists have made calls to “greet Shafiq” at Cairo Airport upon his return, by hurling shoes at him.
In late 2012, he helped establish the Egyptian Patriotic Movement, which openly opposed the rule of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood.
In a televised interview in early September 2013, Shafiq said he would not run for the presidency should Sisi nominate himself.
Moussa is yet another candidate seeking to cleanse himself of the feloul label. He served as Mubarak’s foreign minister from 1991 to 2001. Moussa also served as Arab League chief from 2001 to 2011.
Last September, he was selected to preside over the 50-member committee entrusted with amending the Brotherhood-drafted Constitution of 2012.
Like Shafiq, Moussa also announced that he would not run for the presidency if Sisi seeks it. In televised interviews, Moussa even called on Sisi to nominate himself.
Moussa was expected to be one of the finalists — after conducting Egypt’s first televised presidential debate with his contender Abdel Moneim Abouel Fottouh. Moussa trailed behind him, coming in fifth place
Abdel Moneim Abouel Fotouh
Secretary general of the Arab Medical Federation, and former member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Guidance Bureau, Abouel Fotouh was expelled from the Brotherhood in mid-2011 for seeking to nominate himself in the presidential race.
He came in fourth place in the elections. Abouel Fotouh went on to establish the Strong Egypt Party.
Several of Abouel Fotouh’s party members were arrested for campaigning for a “no” vote on the draft constitution in January this year, which spurred his camp to boycott the referendum. Given their antagonistic stances, Abouel Fotouh and his moderate Islamist party may choose to boycott this year’s presidential elections — this is still to be determined.
The third place presidential candidate, and chief of the Nasserist Karama Party, Sabbahi is a charismatic politician, viewed as being a leading populist candidate from the “pro-revolution camp.”
However, Sabbahi has openly sided with the military establishment and its indirect rule since July 3, 2013.
There are conflicting reports regarding Sabbahi’s presidential ambitions for this year. Some within his camp claim that he will not run if Sisi nominates himself; others claim he will contest the elections in any case.
Having turned 40 years-old during the 2012 nomination process, Ali was Egypt’s youngest presidential candidate. Classified as a “pro-revolutionary” candidate, Ali was an underdog in the elections, being eclipsed by the likes of Sabbahi. He came in seventh place.
Ali voiced his dissent regarding the interim government’s issuing of a new restrictive law regulating protests in November 2013, and is against the collective roundups of Morsi supporters.
Like Abouel Fotouh and his party, Ali also campaigned against the new constitution — on the basis that it grants SCAF sweeping powers and immunity from popular oversight.
Ali has not yet announced whether or not he will nominate himself this time around. He and his campaign team are still studying the political situation, and the final decision will be taken after the new election law is launched. Former campaigners, especially youth supporters, are however pushing him to contest this year’s elections.
Abu Ezz al-Hariri
Leader and founding member of the Popular Socialist Alliance Party, Hariri came in eighth place in the presidential race.
The Alexandrian leftist politician claimed that he and his family were assaulted in November 2012 by Brotherhood members and Morsi supporters.
According to his Facebook page, Hariri expects Sisi to win the upcoming elections with over 75 percent of the vote. The page added that Egyptians’ faith lies in the institution of the Armed Forces more than in Sisi’s candidacy.
No official comment has yet emerged from his camp regarding nomination or lack thereof.
The left-leaning former judge, and deputy chief of the Court of Cassation, was nominated with the support of the centrist social Tagammu Party. He came in ninth place in the 2012 elections.
After faring so poorly, and working with a small campaign budget, Bastawisi is unlikely to contest the upcoming elections, though no official stance has been announced.
This retired police general came in tenth in the last presidential elections. Little is known about this former candidate or his current political ambitions.
Given his background and poor performance in 2012, Hossam is unlikely to contest this year’s elections, especially if Sisi runs.
Mohamed Fawzy Eissa
While Omar Suleiman was barred from the presidential race, his doppelganger Eissa came in 11th place. Eissa is a former police commander, and currently works as a lawyer. He has no party affiliations.
His presidential ambitions this year are still unknown.
This little-known candidate, a retired paratrooper chief and intelligence officer under Mubarak’s rule, received very few votes.
Khairallah came in 12th place, and is not expected to run given that SCAF has given Sisi the green light. Khairallah remains a chief member of the Democratic Peace Party.
Professor of international law and former diplomat, Ashal received the lowest number of votes in 2012. This may have been attributed to confusion regarding his withdrawal from the elections in favor of Khairat al-Shater.
Voters did not know if he was on or off the list of nominees during the first round of presidential elections. Nonetheless, the Salafi Al-Asala Party backed Ashal in his bid.
While campaigning, he heavily criticized fellow candidate Amr Moussa on a number of occasions, accusing him of corruption in several instances.
Ashal helped establish the Free Egypt Party. Following his failed presidential bid, he resumed his professional trajectory and also served on the National Council for Human Rights. Ashal is also a regular guest and political commentator on talk shows.