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State actors urging political players to field presidential candidates: MP Mostafa Bakry
Courtesy: Sisi's presidential campaign
 

State actors have called members of the Wafd Party and former presidential contender Hamdeen Sabbahi in an effort to convince them to participate in the upcoming presidential election, member of Parliament Mostafa Bakry told Mada Masr.

However, according to sources close to Sabbahi, he has rejected the proposition.

Following the withdrawal of five former candidates from the 2018 presidential race, Bakry told Mada Masr that there will be other candidates in the elections other than incumbent President Abdel Fattal al-Sisi, noting that the contender will likely emerge from the Wafd Party.

Despite earlier denials, the head of the Wafd Party’s media committee, Yasser Hassan, issued a statement on Thursday, stating that the party’s leadership is currently discussing the possibility of fielding a candidate in the elections, adding that the party’s board will meet on Saturday to decide on the matter.

Bakry added that, although Sabbahi has thus far rejected the state’s proposition to run again after his unsuccessful 2014 bid, attempts to convince him persist. A Parliament source told Mada Masr, speaking on condition of anonymity, that MPs have already begun collecting endorsements for Sabbahi.

According to the Constitution and the presidential elections law, in order for a candidate to be officially recognized by the National Elections Authority (NEA), they must first obtain 20 endorsements from MPs, or 25,000 endorsements from eligible voters across 15 governorates, with a minimum of 1,000 endorsements from each governorate. There is still time for Sabbahi to collect the needed endorsements from MPs before the NEA’s candidacy application deadline at 2 pm on January 29, Bakry asserted. Out of Parliament’s 596 members, approximately 40 have yet to sign endorsements for Sisi.

A source close to Sabbahi said that he will not run. Mohamed Sami, the head of the Karama Party, previously led by Sabbahi, affirmed to Mada Masr: “There is no truth to Sabbahi running in the elections, this is a definitive matter, with no doubt.”

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. However, the state’s efforts to convince other candidates to participate in the 2018 elections appear to be part of an attempt to avoid a scenario where only the sitting president runs, which would undermine the image that Egypt seeks to present to the world of a free and democratic electoral process.

Lawyer Khaled Ali announced his withdrawal from the presidential race in a Wednesday press conference, citing government violations that led to unfair competition. On Tuesday, the campaign of former Armed Forces Chief of Staff Sami Anan announced its suspension after Anan was arrested and referred to military prosecution with accusations of violating military bylaws by running without acquiring the military’s prior approval. As of Wednesday evening, Anan’s whereabouts remained unknown to his family.

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 withdrew from 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.

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