Head of Egypt’s Reform and Development Party Mohamed Anwar al-Sadat said that he is retracting his bid to run in the upcoming presidential elections scheduled for March.
“This came after the opinion of the campaign, we decided not to participate in the elections, or continue in the electoral process. However we call on people to actively participate in the electoral process,” Sadat said during a press conference held at the party headquarters on Monday.
“We asked for things and did not find them, so we will not fight a losing battle. We addressed the House of Representatives to use our constitutional right to obtain the signatures of deputies from within the council, and the council did not respond, and as I was an MP I have connections with many deputies, but I preferred to meet them inside the council to get their support, as a right stipulated by the constitution, and as we saw a festival of signatures of support for the President by the MPs,” Sadat said.
He went on to say that “We saw in previous elections the wait until the last minute to know the outcome of the election, and this is prevailing around the world, and this is what we want, and not to approve the determination of the elections before its start.”
“I was astounded a few days ago by a book distributed as a free gift […] which is an attack on me and written by a fugitive who is wanted and sentenced to two years in prison. The question is: who finances such a book?,” he wondered.
He continued to explain that the idea of his candidacy for the presidency came after he was dismissed from the parliament and after meeting with politicians, public figures and supporters from various governorates. He added, “I’m like many Egyptians who did not feel that they are real partners in their living and political conditions.”
Sadat said that the slogan of his campaign “people’s rule, tomorrow’s hope” means that the people rule through civil institutions which are the outcome of real elections, so that the people have a say.
He added that he and his supporters felt that “the people were not a partner in any of the projects that were put forward in the last period, and the people did not participate in determining [the country’s] priorities.” He addeded that “the people must play a part through real and independent institutions,” pointing out that it was not available in the media for anyone who have different opinions to share or give their views.
He further stressed that he do not want to see presidential terms be extended beyond the current two terms.
“I hope that the coming period will not witness any change of the article in the consitution on the President’s term [in office] because there is a big campaign to change this particular article, and I hope that this will not happen and that the president will make a final promise to see a president who comes only for two terms according to the constitution, then comes another president,” Sadat said.
Sadat called on President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to hold a debate in the coming days with the presidential candidates. “There are failures in some files, despite the achievements that have taken place, and these need a real discussion, we come out of it with results, not unilateral dialogues, so we feel we are party in what happens, without any kind of abuse or skepticism, so that people can discuss and participate rightfully,” he said.
Last week the High Electoral Committee (HEC) in Egypt set the timetable for the presidential race: Egyptians abroad will vote on March 16, 17, and 18, while in Egypt, voters will take to the polling booth on March 26, 27, and 28.
The Committee will receive applications for candidacy from January 20 to 29, and the initial list of candidates will be announced and published on January 30 and 31. Appeals will be received on February 1 and 2, for those who are not considered legible.
Current President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi has not personally declared that he will run in the elections, though over 500 MPs in the parliament signed support for him to run again
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm