Egypt’s presidential election: A Tug of War between El Sissi and Sabahi
CAIRO, May 11, 2014 – Egypt’s presidential election, scheduled for May 26-27, is causing a significant amount of controversy. The only two candidates are former Defense Minister Abdel Fattah El- Sissi, who resigned his military position to run for office, and Hamdeen Sabahi, a politician, poet and journalist who brands himself a socialist and an activist.
Supporters of El Sissi view him as a decisive figure capable of stabilizing a country plagued by daily street protests and political violence since the January 2011 revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak.
Sabahi’s supporters believe that he can accomplish the objectives of January 2011 revolution, which they say have been neglected. The objectives are bread, freedom and social justice. Egyptians who participated in the revolution say none of those goals have been accomplished, and freedom and dignity have been particularly ignored.
El Sissi is expected to win the election easily thanks to his emphasis on security and stability. In an interview with Egypt (CBC), El Sissi expressed his support of the law, saying “anything needed for security and stability we will do”.
These statements meet the requirement for security but also raise questions about freedom and justice.
Egypt’s justice system has come under attack after courts sentenced more than 650 members of the Muslim Brotherhood to death. Amnesty International and several international governments, including the United States, noted flaws in the trials of members of the Muslim Brotherhood. A court in Menya, Upper Egypt, confirmed the death sentences for 720 members, despite a 24 hour trial and no legal representation, and sentences of life in prison for another 491.
Sabahi, the leftist candidate, has pledged to amend the protest law in order to support freedom of expression. His campaign expressed that uprooting terrorism and poverty is on top of their Agenda. Sabahi promised to establish transitional justice that will mete out fair sentences and will hand out fair retribution for the martyrs and injured of the revolution.
Egyptians are waiting patiently for their future president as they seek security and economic stability, regardless of who wins the election. Most people agree that a strong, wise president is needed, a man who can take decisions without regard to political pressure. Moustafa EL Samak, Professor of Political Sociology at Ain Shams University in Egypt, said that Egyptians are hoping their next president will address the country’s economic, social and political problems.
A polling centre at Youm7 examined public trends on political, social and economic issues confirming that security tops Egyptian concerns, and that around 87% of Egyptians surveyed listed security and stability as the most important priorities, followed by the economy at 56%, health at 35% and education at 34% and infrastructure at 32%.
The country will have its new president in less than a month, and will then assess his ability to reform and unify Egypt.