A slew of oppositional and public figures joined the call to boycott the presidential election on Monday, adding their signatures to a statement calling for an end to the electoral process and the dismantling of the National Elections Authority (NEA).
Forty-eight figures have backed the statement, first issued on Sunday, in which signatories accuse the authority of condoning “security and administrative interference in the presidential election.” Until Monday afternoon, current President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was the only contender to have applied for candidacy.
The group that drafted the statement reached out to oppositional figures, who supported their call for a boycott, according to a source close to the drafting process speaking on condition of anonymity. The source told Mada Masr that the group uploaded it to a petition website to collect online signatures.
Among those who added their signatures to the document on Monday are former Dostour Party President Hala Shukrallah, former Foreign Minister Maasoum Marzouk, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies Director Bahey Eddin Hassan, novelist Alaa al-Aswany, Cairo University professor Hassan Nafaa, activist Mamdouh Hamza, University of Cambridge professor Khaled Fahmy, April 6 Youth Movement co-founder Ahmed Maher, American University in Cairo professor Rabab al-Mahdy, Egyptian Social Democratic Party member Ziyah al-Elimy, activists Khaled Abdel Hamid and Shady al-Ghazaly Harb and activist and journalist Gamila Ismail.
Political figures were some of the first to sign the statement when it was issued on Sunday, including 2012 presidential election candidate Abdel Moneim Abouel Fotouh, former candidate in the 2018 presidential election Mohamed Anwar al-Sadat, vice presidents on former candidate Sami Anan’s ticket, Hazem Hosni and Hesham Geneina, and presidential adviser to former interim President Adly Mansour, Essam Heggy.
The signatories claimed the electoral process has been marred by “intimidation,” accusing the government of “trying to eliminate all candidates on the scene,” pointing to the court case against former candidate and rights lawyer Khaled Ali, 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.
A recently formed alliance of opposition groups called the Civil Democratic Movement announced on Sunday that it too will publish a statement in a Tuesday press conference regarding the electoral process.
The movement was founded in December, and is comprised of 150 political figures and seven parties, including the Dostour, Adl and Egyptian Social Democratic parties.
In a statement circulated on Sunday, the movement said will declare its 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.”
The stifled political atmosphere meant that, following Khaled Ali’s withdrawal on Wednesday, there was a dearth of candidates to run against Sisi, until the Ghad Party fielded a surprise candidate on Monday afternoon. If his application is accepted, he will be Sisi’s only challenger.
Party head Moussa Mostafa Moussa submitted his candidacy papers to the NEA only 7 minutes before the 2 pm deadline. His application came after reported efforts by the state to find a second candidate to run against Sisi. A member of Parliament previously told Mada Masr that these attempts aim to avoid having the elections turn into a referendum, which would “affect Egypt’s image abroad.”
The Sunday statement called 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.