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Khaled Ali withdraws from presidential race, citing government violations

Lawyer Khaled Ali announced his withdrawal from the 2018 presidential race, citing government violations and unfair competition as the reasons why he will not be submitting the paperwork needed to support his candidacy application to the National Elections Authority (NEA).

Ali noted that several members of his campaign were arrested and referred to “urgent trials and ludicrous charges” during a Wednesday evening press conference, held at the former candidate’s campaign headquarters in central Cairo. Ali also mentioned several other government violations, which he stated resulted in difficulties promoting his presidential campaign. “The race exhausted its purposes before it even began,” the former presidential candidate said.

In another press conference held earlier in January, Ali’s campaign said they faced several violations while attempting to collect the necessary citizen endorsements at offices of the Real Estate Proclamation and Notarization Authority, the body responsible for processing citizens’ endorsements of presidential candidates. On Monday, Ali’s campaign organizers were met with a formal rejection when they requested that the NEA release the official number of endorsements that the candidate had amassed thus far.

Ali’s withdrawal from the 2018 presidential race renders President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi the sole candidate so far. According to Article 36 of the presidential elections law, the elections may still be held with only one candidate, so long as s/he receives 5 percent of the total eligible votes.

Presidential candidates have until 2 pm on January 29 to submit the necessary paperwork for their candidacy to be officially recognized by the NEA. To be eligible to run in the 2018 presidential election, Egypt’s Constitution and presidential elections law stipulate that candidates must collect endorsements from at least 20 members of Parliament, or from 25,000 eligible voters from 15 different governorates, with a minimum of 1,000 endorsements from each governorate.

Former Armed Forces Chief of Staff Sami Anan’s presidential campaign was suspended after Anan was arrested and referred to military prosecution on Tuesday. In a televised statement broadcast on Tuesday afternoon, the Armed Forces accused the presidential candidate of announcing his bid for office without first acquiring a permit from the military, aiming to incite a rift between the Armed Forces and the public, as well as forging his end of service documents. A few hours after the statement was aired, Anan’s official campaign Facebook page announced that the campaign was suspended until further notice.

Former MP Mohamed Anwar al-Sadat withdrew from the 2018 presidential elections earlier in January, stating that the general political climate could place his supporters and campaign members at risk. Sadat’s withdrawal came just a week after former Mubarak-era Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq also pulled out of the 2018 race.

Armed Forces Colonel Ahmed Konsowa was sentenced in December to six years in prison, charged with violating military bylaws, after he announced his intention to run for president while wearing military uniform.

The NEA is set to announce the preliminary list of candidates on January 31 or February 1. The 2018 presidential elections will be held between March 16 and March 18 for Egyptians abroad, and between March 26 and March 28 inside Egypt.

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