World Bulletin/News Desk
Egyptian leftist politician Hamdeen Sabahi announced on Saturday he would be running for the presidency in a forthcoming election, enlivening a race that army chief Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is widely expected to win.
Sabahi came third in the 2012 election won by Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood, who was deposed by the army in July.
"My personal decision as a citizen is to run for the coming presidential elections," Sabahi said in a public address to supporters. "Hamdeen Sabahi's battle is the battle of the revolution," he said.
Sabahi, 59, built a big following during his campaign for the 2012 election, using a popular touch to beat candidates with better funded campaigns.
The dearth of candidates ahead of this election provides a stark contrast to the 2012 vote, the first time Egyptians were allowed to freely choose their head of state.
Abdel Moneim Abol Fotouh, a moderate Islamist who came fourth in that vote, has said he does not plan to run, saying the current circumstances are neither free nor democratic.
Members of his party were detained in January while campaigning against a new constitution passed in a referendum.
Since Mursi was deposed, hundreds of his supporters have been killed and thousands arrested in a state crackdown on the Brotherhood, Egypt's best organised party until last year.
Some of Egypt's best known secular dissidents have also been jailed in recent months for protesting without permission.
Sisi, 59, seems certain to win the election, though he has yet to formally declare his candidacy.
He has been lionised by state and privately owned media.
The election is expected as early as April.
Hassan Nafaa, a professor of political science at Cairo University, said Sabahi's decision could encourage more candidates to run, adding that a more competitive vote would bolster a Sisi presidency.
"It is in his favour to win by 60 percent rather than 90 percent," he said.
'Tamarod' suspends co-founders membership over Sabbahi backing
Egypt's Tamarod, the youth group that spearheaded last summer's demonstrations that led to the ouster of elected president Mohamed Morsi by the army, has announced it had suspended the membership of three of its co-founders over their support for leftist politician Hamdeen Sabbahi for presidency.
In a statement late Saturday, the campaign announced it has suspended the three co-founders' membership for committing "violations aimed at tarnishing the group's reputation."
Hassan Shahin, Mohamed Abdel-Aziz and Khaled al-Qadi announced their support for Sabbahi's presidential bid, only hours after the group had declared it will support army chief Abdel-Fatah al-Sisi for president, although the latter has not yet announced whether he will vie for the top post.
"The movement suspended the three members for taking down the statement we issued on Facebook Friday declaring our support for al-Sisi should he announce he is running for president," spokesman Mohamed Nabawi told Anadolu Agency.
He added that during a group meeting on Friday, the three members voiced objection at first to supporting al-Sisi's possible presidential bid but they eventually agreed to commit themselves to the "majority's decision" to back al-Sisi.
"Members of [Tamarod's] executive and administrative committees as well as it's provincial leadership were all surprised [the three co-founders] attended the Popular Current's press conference and thus came to the decision to freeze their membership," Nabawi said.
Last Mod: 09 Şubat 2014, 11:55