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Egypt's el-Sissi says he'll run for third presidential term

October 3, 2023

Strongman President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi on Monday confirmed his intention to run in December's presidential election. He pushed his predecessor out in 2013 to take power, and changed laws to be able to run again.

Supporters of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi hold election placards with his likeness
'Yes to Stability,' Sissi, who came to power in a coup 10 years ago, wants to rule for another sixImage: Sayed Hassan/dpa/picture alliance

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi on Monday confirmed expectations by announcing his intention to run in December's presidential election.

"As I have responded to the people's call before, I heed the call now and announce my intention to run and complete the dream in a new presidential term," el-Sissi told a cheering crowd of supporters at Cairo's New Administrative Capital — a construction megaproject pushed by the president.

El-Sissi, a former army chief who came to power by ousting Mohamed Morsi — Egypt's elected president — in a 2013 military coup, won the election in 2014 and again in 2018, by 96% and 97% respectively.

Several prominent candidates in the 2018 election were kept off ballots or jailed.

Four years ago, el-Sissi oversaw the adoption of amendments to Egypt's constitution that allowed him to stand for a third term, while at the same time extending presidential terms from four to six years.

If re-elected, the authoritarian leader could remain in power until 2030.

'Yes to Stability'

Orchestrated shows of support have been rolled out on a massive scale with banners bearing el-Sissi's likeness blanketing the capital Cairo and enthusiastic coverage of happy el-Sissi supporters being broadcast on state-aligned media.

On Monday, boats on the Nile sported images of el-Sissi and the slogan, "Yes to Stability" on their sails.

Though el-Sissi is widely expected to win re-election against an opposition he has largely crushed over the past decade — mainly by jailing tens of thousands under the guise of cracking down on "dissent"Egypt's dire economic straits could make his victory somewhat less overwhelming.

Inflation in Egypt has skyrocketed to nearly 40% and the country's currency has lost half its value since March 2022.

El-Sissi urged Egyptians to cast ballots in the upcoming vote even if they weren't for him, praising opposing candidates and hailing, "a real beginning to vibrant political life and pluralism."

Among those daring to challenge el-Sissi is Ahmed al-Tantawi, a critic of the president and a former parliamentarian. Tantawi has accused el-Sissi of harassing his supporters and spying on him.

Rights groups say Tantawi supporters have indeed been detained by police; and the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab, after conducting a forensics analysis, said "with high confidence" that the el-Sissi government had hacked his phone.

Accusations that Tantawi supporters had been kept from casting support for his candidacy were brushed aside as "baseless" by the Egyptian National Election Authority — candidates must gather 25,000 public signatures or the support of 20 parliamentarians in order to qualify for the vote.

Egypt's election is scheduled to take place December 10-12.

js/jsi (AFP, Reuters)