Egyptian Presidential Election: A One-Horse Race

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi meets with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at the Presidential Palace in Cairo, Egypt, on April 20, 2016. Photo by: US State Department (Public Domain)

CAIRO, Egypt (ViaNews) – As the deadline for applying to become a presidential candidate approaches, current Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi barely has any competition.

There were three other potential contenders for the presidency but one by one they all dropped out of the race.

The first strong potential candidate was Ahmed Shafik: a former military man and a very successful minister in Hosny Mubarak’s administration. Shafik had previously run in the elections that followed the revolution of January 25 but eventually lost to Muhammad Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate. Since then, he fled to the UAE. In late November Ahmed Shafik announced he would be running for president in 2018, after which he was promptly arrested in the UAE and withdrew from the election.

Next, we have Sami Anan: a former military chief and one of the heads of the military council which run the country before the elections that followed the revolution in 2011. He was considered a strong contender for the presidency especially as he is a military man just like current president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. A couple of days after announcing he was running for president via his Facebook page, he was arrested as well. A military statement on national television stated that he was still a military man under service and therefore can’t simply announce he was running for president without consulting with the military or resigning first. Following his house arrest his run for president ended, the head of his campaign quit, and several members of his campaign pledged their loyalty to President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

Finally, we have lawyer and activist Khaled Ali. Like Ahmed Shafik, Khaled Ali ran in the post-revolution elections as well although he didn’t make it to the next round of voting with Shafik and Morsi. He is known for having been part of the revolution and is considered one of the most revolutionary-minded candidates to run for president. Following the arrest of Sami Anan, Khaled Ali’s campaign also announced that they would withdraw from the elections. Perhaps trying to make a statement or perhaps realizing they were fighting a losing battle.

After the withdraw of these three candidates, the only man left standing was el-Sisi. On Thursday, January 25, Al Wafd party announced that they would put forth a candidate to spare Egypt from having only one potential candidate running for president only for them to withdraw their position two days later, on Saturday, January 27. Al Wafd is one of the oldest political parties in Egypt, but haven’t had any success when it comes to presidential candidates. The party had already endorsed current President el-Sisi for a second term and it would have been odd for them to have a candidate in the race while supporting another.

The actual elections and voting are going to be in March, but it looks unlikely that anything surprising might happen. The three strong candidates have all withdrawn, and it looks like President el-Sisi can already start preparing for his second term as president of the Arab Republic of Egypt.

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