Political opposition figures demand halt of electoral process

A number of leading opposition figures issued a statement on Sunday demanding that the National Elections Authority halt the current electoral process and be dismantled, accusing the body of condoning “security and administrative interference in the presidential election.”

The statement, which asserted that the electoral process has been marred by “intimidation” as well as media and government bias, is one of several forms of mobilization by opposition figures that followed the elimination and persecution of all prominent presidential candidates in recent weeks.

The statement was signed by president of the Strong Egypt Party and former presidential candidate Abdel Moneim Abouel Fotouh, withdrawn presidential candidate and head of the Reform and Development Party Mohamed Anwar al-Sadat, university professor and vice president on the ticket of former presidential candidate Sami Anan, Hazem Hosni, former head of the Central Auditing Agency Hesham Geneina and former presidential adviser Essam Heggy.

The statement, which followed several violations perpetrated against candidates — most recently the assault on Geneina on Saturday morning, a few days after he was revealed to be part of Anan’s presidential campaign — called on people to boycott the elections, slated for March, and deemed election results illegitimate “because of the lack of political competition, but also because this worrisome policy is an obvious first step toward changing the Constitution, removing the limit on presidential terms and eliminating all chances of a peaceful transition of power.”

The signatories accused the government of “trying to eliminate all candidates on the scene,” pointing to the persecution of individuals who expressed their intention to run, from the case against rights lawyer Khaled Ali, to the arrest and sentencing of military colonel Ahmed Konsowa, the withdrawal of Sadat due to alleged security restrictions and former Armed Forces Chief of Staff Anan’s arrest on Tuesday.

Amr Abdel Rahman, the spokesperson for Khaled Ali’s recently suspended presidential campaign, told Mada Masr that the campaign will be signing another statement that the Civil Democratic Movement, an alliance of opposition parties, will issue in a press conference on Tuesday.

The movement issued a statement on Sunday stating they will declare their position on “the successive absurdities that took place to vacate the electoral race for the current president, and the pressure and persecution that serious candidates, their supporters and their campaign members are facing” in Tuesday’s conference.

The movement was founded last December and is comprised of seven parties as well as 150 political figures. It includes the Dostour, Adl and the Egyptian Social Democratic parties.

Mohamed Othman, a member of the Strong Egypt Party’s political bureau, told Mada Masr that the opposition alliance has not reached out to the party to join Tuesday’s conference but that the party is leaning toward participating in any boycott movement.

Former presidential candidate Sadat issued a separate statement in which he invited political leaders to march to the Ettehadiya Presidential Palace to present Sisi a list of demands regarding freedom of political activity and the performance of the media.

Sadat told Mada Masr that his call is an invitation to political players meeting on Tuesday to make a move that goes beyond statements.

“People need to see the political elite moving and confronting. Everyone is talking about what’s happening in the elections; we have become the world’s laughing stock,” he said.

Sadat added that the decision to boycott the elections is not final yet, and that political players will declare their position in Tuesday’s press conference.

The stifled political atmosphere has left the presidential race with the current president as the only candidate. There are reported efforts by the state in the last few days to push a second candidate into the race. A member of Parliament told Mada Masr on Saturday that these attempts aim to avoid having the elections turn into a referendum, which would “affect Egypt’s image abroad.”

Sunday’s statement considered the last-minute search for a candidate “an insult to Egypt” and commended the position of the Wafd Party, which refused to field a presidential candidate yesterday.

Mohamed Hamama 

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