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On 29 May, Egypt’s papers focus on their coverage on three election-related developments: the Presidential Elections Commission’s announcement of the final two candidates out of 13 original contenders; its rejection of appeals regarding irregularities and violations during the first round of elections; and the final two contenders’ political maneuvering — or courtship — ahead of the second round of elections next month set for 16 and 17 June.
“Officially, Shafiq and Morsy in the second round of elections ... Sabbahi casts doubt on results” reads the headline of the independent Al-Watan newspaper. On Monday, the elections commission head, Farouk Sultan, announced officially the final two contenders for the presidency. The highest scoring candidates were the Freedom and Justice Party’s Mohamed Morsy with around 25 percent of the votes and Mubarak’s last prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq, with around 24 percent.
Hamdeen Sabbahi, a Nasserist candidate from the Karama Party who came in third place with around 21 percent of the votes, claimed that there were election violations and cast doubts on the final results. Sabbahi had filed an appeal to the PEC regarding these alleged violations. The PEC, however, rejected Sabbahi’s appeal along with six other appeals on Monday. Four appeals were turned down, while another three appeals were rejected on the basis that they were filed late.
According to PEC’s president, “Allegations regarding the inclusion of 900,000 police and armed forces on voter lists are baseless.”
In the independent Al-Tahrir newspaper a headline reads, “Administrative Court to look into 50 legal appeals filed against Shafiq and Morsy today.” However, the Administrative Court — like other judicial bodies — may not override or overrule the PEC’s decisions, as the commission has the final say in election-related decisions.
Al-Tahrir runs another headline reading “Morsy courts political powers” and “Shafiq polishes-up his image.” The article mentions that Mohamed Morsy and his campaign team are seeking to woo political heavyweights, particularly Nobel Prize winner Mohamed ElBaradei. Morsy’s campaign team is said to be flirting with the idea of appointing ElBaradei to a senior post within the next cabinet — perhaps, even the post of Prime Minister. While ElBaradei has not yet responded to these calls of political courtship, a meeting between the two parties is reportedly being planned.
As for Ahmed Shafiq, Al-Tahrir reports that he is desperately attempting to improve his image which has been tarnished (in the eyes of revolutionaries) by his close association with ousted dictator Hosni Mubarak. Reportedly, Shafiq is also attempting to woo ElBaradei into his camp by offering him a senior advisory position within his planned government.
A headline in the liberal opposition Al-Wafd newspaper's reads, “Shafiq continues to dispense campaign promises of reform, and portrays himself as siding with the revolution.” Al-Wafd also mentions that “the Lieutenant-General woos ElBaradei by offering him a state-advisory position.”
Another of Al-Watan's headlines says,"[Khairat] al-Shater leads political negotiations to support Morsy’s campaign amongst other presidential campaigns.” The article mentions that Shater, a multimillionaire and the Brotherhood’s chief financier — who was also the initial presidential candidate put forth by the Brotherhood — is attempting to reach out to political and presidential campaigners in the hopes of luring them into supporting Morsy. This paper mentions that Ahmed Shafiq’s campaigners have been reaching out to Islamist forces in the meantime in attempts to gain their support for Mubarak’s man.
The independent Youm7 runs the story “Shafiq and Morsy battle it out over the votes of Sabbahi and [Abdel Moneim] Abouel Fotouh.” The article mentions that both Shafiq and Morsy are attempting to win over the votes of the two presidential candidates who came in third and fourth, respectively. The article mentions that the Morsy campaign is dispatching campaigners in teams of threes to stump for Morsy, where they are reportedly targeting "would-be-voters in cafeterias, sporting clubs, malls and cinemas.”
Another headline in Youm7 reads “They’ve left the race, and are preparing to confront the next president.” The article includes photographs of Sabbahi, Abouel Fotouh, and fifth place candidate Amr Moussa. The article clarifies that these three candidates have not aligned themselves with either Shafiq or Morsy. According to the article, Abouel Fotouh claims, "I haven’t met with the Brotherhood, and I will not accept any governmental post, if offered." While Sabbahi says, "My exclusion from the second round of elections does not mean that we won’t continue along our (political) road." Moussa is quoted as saying, “I have not contacted Shafiq or Morsy, and I will not retire from politics.”
In the state-owned Al-Akhbar, “Amr Moussa: Morsy or Shafiq is not the question, but rather — where is the country heading to?” This paper also quotes Sabbahi as saying, “I will not side with, nor enter into deals with, the finalist candidates.” As for Abouel Fotouh, “I am not looking for a post in the next government. My message is: Don’t support remnants of the ousted regime.” Al-Akhbar also quotes Mohamed Selim al-Awa, the sixth place presidential contender who distanced himself from both Morsy and Shafiq by saying, "My supporters aren’t like loose bricks which I can move as I desire.”
Al-Tahrir newspaper features an article about how non-aligned political forces have sought to put forth a Declaration of Democratic Guarantees "to ensure that a civilian state is upheld by whoever wins the presidential race. This declaration primarily aims at keeping Shafiq from declaring another military-run state, and at keeping Morsy from declaring an Islamic/theocratic state. It also seeks to establish a power-sharing mechanism in the form of a presidential council consisting of the winning candidate, along with a number of vice presidents who are to be announced ahead of the next round of elections. The article asks, “Can the Declaration of Guarantees save Egypt from the Brotherhood, and remnants of the Mubarak regime?”
In the independent Al-Shorouk newspaper, “[Sobhi] Saleh: The Brotherhood is not an occupation force which is expected to present its reassurances to the populace.” According to the Brotherhood’s Saleh, political forces should not expect Morsy to provide reassurances to the people prior to his election. Saleh added that the Brotherhood would accept Shafiq’s electoral victory, and would not organize protests against him, if he is freely and fairly voted into office.
Al-Dostour, which is supposed to be an independent paper, officially takes the side of Ahmed Shafiq in its biased coverage. This paper also resorts to anti-Brotherhood fear-mongering tactics. Its top headlines read: “The Society (of Muslim Brethren’s) assumption of rule will mean civil war.” In a more likely scenario: “The Society’s assumption of power means that they will take over presidential powers, along with executive and legislative authorities.” Al-Dostour goes on to indicate that a victory for Morsy would translate into replacing the Egyptian constitution with the Brotherhood’s constitution and bylaws.
In another menacing headline, Al-Dostour claims that the Brotherhood would “imprison, or physically eliminate any person who violates their regulations or whims.” Al-Dostour’s top headline reads “Brotherhood’s Inferno: Revolutionary Guards, masked militias will run amok as they did on 28 January when they burnt down police stations and conducted prison-breaks.” The paper runs photos of masked Brotherhood youths at an Egyptian university where they displayed their martial art skills. Another (unrelated) photo shows masked men carrying automatic assault rifles in their hands.
Al-Dostour also quotes Ahmed Shafiq, comparing him to the Turkish Prime Minister: "The Erdoğan of Egypt: If they assume office, there will be no popular force capable of unseating the Brotherhood from power."
Al-Ahram: Daily, state-run, largest distribution in Egypt
Al-Akhbar: Daily, state-run, second to Al-Ahram in institutional size
Al-Gomhurriya: Daily, state-run
Rose al-Youssef: Daily, state-run
Al-Dostour: Daily, privately owned
Al-Shorouk: Daily, privately owned
Al-Watan: Daily, privately owned
Al-Wafd: Daily, published by the liberal Wafd Party
Youm7: Daily, privately owned
Al-Tahrir: Daily, privately owned
Freedom and Justice: Daily, published by the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party
Sawt al-Umma: Weekly, privately owned
Al-Arabi: Weekly, published by the Nasserist Party
Al-Nour: Official paper of the Salafi Nour Party