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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 June 2018

Egypt's El Sisi looks set for re-election as two more opponents drop out

Zamalek football club boss Mortada Mansour announced that he will not stand, while the head of the El Wafd party also withdrew on Saturday

Only Egyptian president Abdel Fattah El Sisi has so far officially announced his candidacy in the election for which voting is set for March 26. The Egyptian Presidency / Handout via Reuters
Only Egyptian president Abdel Fattah El Sisi has so far officially announced his candidacy in the election for which voting is set for March 26. The Egyptian Presidency / Handout via Reuters

Two more potential presidential election candidates in Egypt withdrew on Saturday, leaving the way clear for incumbent Abdel Fattah El Sisi to stand unopposed.

Only Mr El Sisi, in power since 2014, has so far officially announced his candidacy in the election for which voting is set for March 26.

Nominations for candidates remain open until Monday.

Zamalek football club boss Mortada Mansour announced on Facebook on Saturday that he will not be a candidate, despite previously saying that he would.

The head of the old liberal El Wafd party, Sayed El Badawi, also withdrew on Saturday and announced his backing for Mr El Sisi.

On Wednesday, rights lawyer Khaled Ali, seen as the last real challenger to Mr El Sisi, stepped aside too.

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The National Election Authority announced on January 8 that the deadline for applications would be January 29.

Under Egyptian law, presidential hopefuls must collect endorsements from at least 20 lawmakers, or at least 25,000 registered voters, with a minimum of 1,000 signatures from each of at least 15 provinces.

Since December, one by one, all of the president's likely challengers have either ruled themselves out of the race or been sentenced to time in prison.

Mr El Sisi, who was elected president a year after heading the 2013 military ouster of Islamist leader Mohamed Morsi, on Wednesday officially submitted his application to stand for a second four-year term.

His regime is regularly accused by NGOs of human rights violations.

But the government says its priorities are reforms to the economy and the fight against "terrorism", and accuses its detractors of seeking to harm Egypt's interests.