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Liberal party endorses military man's rival for Egypt presidency

CAIRO – A liberal Egyptian political party said Wednesday it is endorsing leftist presidential hopeful Hamdeen Sabahi in his race against the overwhelming favorite, former army chief Abdel Fattah Sisi.

The endorsement shows the Constitution Party is a “pillar for those aiming for a purely civil state,” Hala Shukrallah, the party’s chief, told a news conference.

Established by Nobel laureate Mohamed ElBaradei in 2012, the party was one of the political groups that blessed the ouster last summer of former Islamist President Mohamed Morsi at the hands of the army, which was led by Sisi.

Nonetheless, almost 60% of the party's general board members voted in favor of backing Sabahi, while just 10% voted for endorsing Sisi's candidacy.

Another 28.6% wanted to boycott the poll altogether.

The party has been regarded as a mainstay for the leaders of the 2011 revolution against former strongman Hosni Mubarak. But the current extent of the party's influence on voters remains to be seen.

The presidential election is scheduled for May 26-27.

Sabahi and his campaign have complained of improper support by state-run media and other state institutions for Sisi’s candidacy. On Wednesday, Sabahi's campaign filed a complaint to the Cabinet after ministers of tourism, sports and social development publicly announced their support for Sisi.

Sisi stepped down from his post as defense minister on March 26 in order to be eligible to run for presidency as a civilian candidate. He has enjoyed overwhelming backing by Egyptians since orchestrating Morsi's ouster amid nationwide protests.

Hassan is a special correspondent.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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