Sabbahi runs for president, Abouel Fotouh abstains

Surrounded by his supporters, leftist politician Hamdeen Sabbahi announced in a press conference on Saturday that he would run for the upcoming presidential elections.

While people wait for Military Commander in Chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to confirm his intent to run for president, Sabbahi had been vague regarding his position.

Leaked conversations initially indicated that Sabbahi would not run opposite Sisi in case the latter decided to run. However, Sabbahi asserted in recent statements that he is waiting for political forces to agree on a “revolutionary candidate.”

In his announcement, Sabbahi represented himself as this revolutionary candidate that all the forces of the revolution can put their differences aside and rally around.

“First of all our battle is against poverty, regression, corruption and oppression. We are the people who chanted in the squares ‘the people and the army are one hand’ and Hamdeen will go through this battle in the name of the revolution and for the people and the military,” he said during the press conference.

Sabbahi highlights being a civilian as his advantage over Sisi, who enjoys overwhelming popular support.

“Our battle will aim to convey the demand of the revolution for the people to be the masters and the military to be the protector, and both to be one hand,” he said.

On January 27, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces formally endorsed Sisi’s candidacy, in a statement announcing its respect to the wishes of the people calling Sisi to run for president, considering his response to these demands mandatory. Sisi responded by thanking SCAF for allowing him to respond to the call of duty.

On the same day, interim President Adly Mansour promoted Sisi to Field Marshal, a step that was interpreted as an honorary one indicating that he would soon resign from his military post to run for president.

Sabbahi has proven to have a considerable following during the first round of the presidential elections in 2012, where he came only slightly short of making it to the second round.

The state is already exhibiting some hostility to his campaign. Last Wednesday, four members of the Popular Current Party, founded by Sabbahi, were detained and interrogated for six hours in Qasr al-Ainy police station for having Sabbahi posters on their cars.

Another former presidential candidate, Muslim Brotherhood offshoot Abdel Moneim Abouel Fotouh announced on Sunday that he would not run for president, objecting over the overall political atmosphere, which he deemed undemocratic.

The Strong Egypt Party issued a statement on Sunday announcing that it would not field a presidential candidate.

The party condemned the continuous security violations under the pretext of the war on terrorism. It also called the military’s explicit support for a potential candidate “a brutal blow to the democratic path,’ and condemned the bias of the media, both public and private, towards one candidate.

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