Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi confirmed he’ll seek a third term in December elections in which the plight of the troubled economy and the impact of soaring prices on the country of 105 million people will likely take center stage.
(Bloomberg) — Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi confirmed he’ll seek a third term in December elections in which the plight of the troubled economy and the impact of soaring prices on the country of 105 million people will likely take center stage.
El-Sisi, speaking at a televised event on Monday that extolled the state’s accomplishments over the past few years, said his decision came in answer to calls from the nation.
The president said he promised Egyptians “the new period will be an extension of our common dream for the sake of Egypt and its people.” He urged voters to make the Dec. 10-12 election a “real beginning for a vibrant political life that witnesses pluralism, diversity and difference.”
El-Sisi’s re-election bid was widely expected, as is his eventual victory at the ballot box. Any challenger faces the daunting task of unseating a leader who’s been in office since 2014 and backed by the powerful military and state institutions.
Egypt’s earlier-than-anticipated election comes as the North African nation is mired in its worst economic crisis in decades. Annual inflation is at a record high and authorities are racing to unlock more financing from a $3 billion International Monetary Fund program and state-asset sales to its Gulf allies and others.
Even before the announcement, El-Sisi has been using regular appearances at state events to promote what he says are the accomplishments of the past decade, including a massive overhaul of infrastructure, the construction of a new capital city and an expansion of the Suez Canal.
He has derided critics who say the billions of dollars of spending on such projects helped spur a financial crisis that’s made life increasingly unaffordable for many in the Middle East’s most populous country.
“If the price of development and prosperity for the nation means we do not eat or drink, we will do it,” El-Sisi told a conference on Sept. 30, according to the state-run Ahram Online news website.
Egypt has devalued its pound three times since early 2022 and another major adjustment is expected before it can pass a critical IMF program review.
El-Sisi won elections in 2014 and 2018 with more than 90% of ballots, and securing a new six-year term would extend his rule until about 2030. Authorities are framing his re-election as crucial to maintaining the political stability Egypt has seen since the army ousted the Muslim Brotherhood from power in 2013 amid mass protests against the Islamists.
In the run-up to El-Sisi’s announcement, crowds of his supporters gathered around notary offices across the country to endorse a bid. Under Egyptian law, presidential candidates need to secure either the backing of at last 20 members of parliament or 25,000 registered voters from 15 of Egypt’s provinces.
So far, three other candidates have garnered the support to formally enter the race: Hazem Omar of the Republican People’s Party, Abdel-Sanad Yamam of the liberal Wafd Party and Farid Zahran of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party.
Local media reported some other would-be candidates were facing difficulties in getting endorsements after their supporters were harassed. The National Elections Commission dismissed the claims as baseless.
One of those potential challengers is former lawmaker Ahmed El-Tantawi. Posting on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, he urged his supporters to “cling to hope despite all the pain and to struggle until we achieve our simplest and most important right — to build our present and create our future.”
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