Former presidential candidate Abdel Moneim Abul Fotouh announced Sunday that he will not run during the coming presidential elections.
In a press conference held at the headquarters of his party, Misr Al-Qawia (Strong Egypt) Party in Garden City, Abul Fotouh, who ran for office in 2012, reiterated his party’s stance: they will not elect a presidential candidate. In a statement, the party said it would “assess” the political situation and the degree of freedom the electoral process will enjoy. It also said it will pressure the authorities to stick to the “democratic path” alongside other political movements.
“I stand my ground,” Abul Fotouh said. “I will not run for president … I’m never hesitant about running for elections so long as they are real elections.”
The former candidate said that nothing indicates that the coming presidential elections will be fair. “I won’t take part in deceiving people into believing we have a democratic path when we don’t,” he said.
Abul Fotouh said it remains too early to tell whether the Misr Al-Qawia Party will decide to boycott the elections altogether or support another presidential candidate. The party boycotted the constitutional referendum held in mid-January one day before it was held because its members faced arrests for campaigning against the constitution.
The party said in a statement that it has always supported any “disciplined” call to elections; it nevertheless accused the current authorities of blocking access to any “real participation”.
“When you have over 21,000 detainees, some of whom face torture, when the media is being oppressed and at least 83 journalists face arrests, how can you say we have a democratic path?” Abul Fotouh asked.
He said that the party has approached several hotels to rent a hall where it can hold its press conference, yet no hotel manager would agree, fearing the consequences. He accused the authorities of creating a “republic of fear” to silence the people.
The party criticised the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces’ (SCAF) decision to “mandate” its top general, Field Marshal Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, torun for president two weeks ago. It described the SCAF meeting where the decision was made as a “brutal blow to the democratic path”, adding that the move would involve the army in political matters which do not concern it. It would also put any presidential candidate other than Al-Sisi in confrontation with the military institution and other state institutions.
“Any ex-military man has the right to run for president if he’s no longer part of the military institution,” Abul Fotouh said. “Yet when the SCAF mandates Al-Sisi to run for president, that is a different story.”
The Misr Al-Qawia Party also accused state-owned and private-owned media of being biased toward Al-Sisi and campaigning solely for him while “demonising” other presidential hopefuls. “This turns the presidential process to an inauguration process,” the statement read.
The party said it is well aware of the “challenges” Egypt currently faces, adding that the answer lies in creating a “democratic path” that would guarantee freedoms and equality among presidential candidates and parties.
Egypt’s interim President Adly Mansour amended two weeks ago the “roadmap” announced by Al-Sisi following the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi on 3 July. As per the new amendment, presidential elections will take place before a House of Representatives is elected.
On Saturday, former presidential candidate and Al-Tayar Al-Sha’aby (Popular Current) founder Hamdeen Sabahy announced he will run for president.
Al-Sisi is yet to formally announce whether he will be taking part in the presidential race. As per requirements in the constitution, Al-Sisi would have to resign from his military post and run as a civilian in a bid for the presidency.
Public calls for Al-Sisi to run for president have increased, and tens of thousands of demonstrators marked the three-year anniversary of the 25 January Revolution in Tahrir Square, holding banners of the general who led the ouster of Morsi. Political figures and parties have also supported calls for the minister to run in upcoming elections.