Despite widespread expectations that leader of the Reform and Development Party Mohamed Anwar al-Sadat would announce his candidacy in Egypt’s upcoming elections, the former member of Parliament announced his withdrawal from the race during a press conference on Monday.
Speaking from the party’s headquarters, Sadat said his final decision was based on a number of discussions over the past few days with supporters and campaign members. His decision, he said, is not out of fear for his own safety, but because the general political climate could place his supporters and campaign members at risk, particularly under Egypt’s current state of emergency and protest law, under which dozens of political opponents have been detained in recent months.
Some of Sadat’s supporters experienced difficulties and their livelihoods were threatened when they attempted to endorse him at electoral notarization offices across the country, Sadat said during the press conference.
When asked whether the Reform and Development Party has plans to support another candidate, Sadat said they would wait for the National Elections Authority (NEA) to announce their official candidate list before making a decision. He reaffirmed his stance against boycotting the elections, saying that party members plan to participate in order to learn from the experience.
Sadat presented aspects of his electoral program during the press conference, including his campaign’s progress up until this point and suggestions for future candidates to build upon.
“We prepared a serious campaign, a political program and established committees to coordinate with the NEA, with media, with civil society and committees to collect donations,” he said.
The campaign had already prepared pamphlets ahead of his announcement supporting Sadat’s candidacy that were ready to be distributed across 18 governorates.
To submit an application to run in the upcoming presidential election, a candidate must collect endorsements from at least 20 members of Parliament or from 25,000 eligible voters from across 15 different governorates — 1,000 endorsements from each — according to Egypt’s presidential elections law and the Constitution.
Sadat said collecting the required number of endorsements would not have been an issue for his campaign.
In October 2017, Sadat sent the first of three letters to the NEA requesting that candidates be officially permitted to contact members of Parliament themselves.
“A presidential candidate must be endorsed by at least 20 members of Parliament. For this to happen, Parliament must open its doors to candidates or their representatives to present their programs and collect signatures in an official capacity,” he wrote at the time. “There has been no public announcement of this thus far.”
Sadat was expelled from Parliament in February after allegations he forged the signatures of fellow MPs on legislation he submitted, and for allegedly providing foreign organizations with information on internal parliamentary affairs.