Egyptian leftist politician first to announce bid for presidency

In May 2012, Egyptian presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahi comments on election results at a news conference in Cairo. On Saturday, he announced another bid for the presidency in an election scheduled for April.
(Fredrik Persson / Associated Press)

CAIRO -- Leftist politician Hamdeen Sabahi has become the first candidate to announce his candidacy for president in Egypt’s upcoming election.

Sabahi, who ran unsuccessfully for the office in 2012, faces an uphill battle if the nation’s de facto leader, Field Marshal Abdel Fattah Sisi, takes the expected step of running for the office.

“My personal decision as a citizen is to run in the coming presidential elections. Hamdeen Sabahi’s battle is the battle of the revolution,” the leftist politician said Saturday during a news conference.

“I know that many people will reject my candidacy, but I took the side of the youth and their desire, the youth who took part with me in our revolutions,” he added.


Sabahi, 59, won more than 4 million votes to finish third in the 2012 poll behind winner Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood and Ahmed Shafiq, who was the last to serve as prime minister under deposed leader Hosni Mubarak.

Sisi, who officially serves as defense minister in the current interim government but is widely seen as the most powerful figure in Egypt, played a leading role in ousting Morsi in July following nationwide protests against the Islamist president’s rule.

The election is scheduled to be held by April 18. Under Egypt’s recently approved constitution, Sisi must step down as defense minister before he can compete for the presidency.

He is backed by the military’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which recently issued a statement saying that Sisi “should act upon the people’s will” and run.


On Thursday, Kuwaiti newspaper Al Siyasah reported that the 59-year-old field marshal would be running, but the army’s spokesman said that the report was “merely journalist presumptions rather than direct statements” by Sisi.

The short list of potential candidates includes former Brotherhood member Abdel Monem Aboul Fotouh, though he has stated that under the current circumstances the election cannot be democratic.

A few members of Aboul Fotouh’s Strong Egypt party were briefly detained after posting signs reading “no to the constitution” prior to the constitutional referendum held last month.

Nonetheless, supporters of Aboul Fotouh, who came in fourth in the 2012 election, still hope to persuade him to run.


Hassan is a special correspondent.