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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 June 2018

Pro-Sisi surprise challenger is only other candidate in Egypt election

The run-up to the close of nominations has seen opposition sidelined

Egyptians walk underneath an election campaign poster erected by supporters of Egyptian president Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, in Cairo. Khaled El Fiqi / EPA
Egyptians walk underneath an election campaign poster erected by supporters of Egyptian president Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, in Cairo. Khaled El Fiqi / EPA

The head of an Egyptian party that backs president Abdel Fattah Al Sisi said on Monday that he will contest the presidential election.

Mussa Mustapha Mussa, leader of the liberal Al Ghad party, told Agence France-Presse that he had gathered more than the necessary endorsements to stand.

The last-minute surprise candidacy comes with Mr Sisi, who has led an authoritarian regime since 2014, set to romp home to victory and another four-year term in the March 26-28 polls.

The run-up to the close of nominations has seen any potential opposition sidelined, and many members of Al Ghad who were once seen as opponents of ousted president Hosni Mubarak are now considered supporters of Mr Sisi.

"I am finishing up with some remaining matters and will then go to the National Election Authority to present my candidacy," Mr Mussa said. 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.

Mr Mussa would be the only other candidate to run against Mr Sisi after all other possible challengers either ruled themselves out or were subjected to legal proceedings.

Last week, media reports said Sayed El Badawi, leader of the old liberal Al Wafd party, was a potential candidate.

But he withdrew on Saturday and announced his backing for Mr Sisi.

In the 2014 election, the official results showed that president Sisi had secured 96.9 per cent of the votes.

On Sunday, he and his regime were accused by five public figures of quashing any opposition. They called on voters to boycott the election.

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