Egyptian rights lawyer pulls out of presidential race

A day after Egyptian army arrested presidential hopeful and former military general Sami Hafez Anan along with 30 of his campaign workers, a prominent human rights lawyer has withdrawn from the presidential race.

Khaled Ali (pictured), who may be the last real challenger to Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, pulled out on Wednesday citing intimidation against his supporters and a disputed legal case against him.

The 45-year-old lawyer said people’s hopes of bringing changes through elections have faded.

With Ali’s exit, President Sisi’s re-election in late March has become just a formality.

Mortada Mansour, the chairman of Egyptian football club Zamalek, is the only known candidate left now.

The last date for filing the nomination papers is January 29. Even if Ali submits his papers, a quick ruling in the case against him could disqualify him from contesting for the country’s top office.

Under the new election rules, applications require endorsements from 20 legislators or 25,000 registered voters and 1,000 signatures from every Egyptian province.

Even if candidates get these endorsements, they are arrested or jailed as in the case of Anan and Colonel Ahmed Konsowa or intimidated and forced to withdraw candidature as with Ali, former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq and former lawmaker Mohammed Anwar Sadat.

President Sissi is about to complete his first term which was spent less on reforms and development as he was busy tackling dissidence and terrorism.
He is now seeking a second term to bring in major reforms for building the state which, according to him, normally takes 16 to 20 years.

Sissi may be hinting that if he cannot achieve overall development in the next four years, he will seek two or three more terms in office.