International Desk, Dec 8 (EFE).- With a weak political opposition and a constitutional reform that enables him to remain in power until 2030, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has all the necessary conditions to win the Egyptian presidential elections that will be held on December 10-12, despite popular discontent over the severe crisis that the country is going through.
The former army general and head of military intelligence is campaigning in these new elections by presenting himself as the sole guarantor of Egypt’s security and survival after ruling the country for a decade following the 2013 coup against the Islamist government of the Muslim Brotherhood.
El-Sisi won the 2014 elections with 97% of the vote, a victory he reaffirmed four years later in elections that were heavily criticized by the opposition and human rights organizations.
In 2017, El-Sisi assured that he would only preside over Egypt for two four-year terms, in accordance with the constitution at the time, meaning that his stay in power would end in 2022.
However, in 2019, he pushed through a controversial constitutional reform that extended the presidential term from four to six years and allowed for a third re-election, meaning he could stay in power until 2030.
In addition, El-Sisi’s term extension was applied retroactively to his current term.
Approved by the Egyptian parliament, the reform was ratified in a controversial referendum in which the “yes” vote won with 88.8 percent of the vote, although turnout was only 44.3 percent of the census.
A decade of repression
Organizations such as Human Rights Watch estimate that around 60,000 people have been detained for political reasons in Egypt since El-Sisi came to power, while Amnesty International says that repression of dissent has increased over the past decade.
There is little political opposition in Egypt, where many dissidents have been imprisoned and others forced into exile, while those who remain in the country keep a low profile.
Of the opposition, only former MP Ahmed Tantawi, who withdrew from the race after claiming he had been subjected to a spying campaign and prevented from gathering the necessary citizen endorsements to run, has gained some prominence.
He is now on trial for organizing a process of collecting popular support in parallel with the official process.Some openness
In mid-2022, El-Sisi promoted the so-called “National Dialogue,” a platform to bring together all political movements in Egypt-except for the Muslim Brotherhood, which it considers a terrorist organization- and to draw up a roadmap to solve the country’s problems, especially the severe economic crisis marked by pressing inflation.
He also reactivated the presidential pardon committee to release people held in pre-trial detention for their opinions, although human rights organizations denounce that many more people have been imprisoned for the same reasons during the same period.
No real opposition
Three candidates are running against El-Sisi in these elections: Farid Zahran, head of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party (PSE); Abdel-Sanad Yamama, head of the Wafd Party; and Hazem Omar of the Republican People’s Party (RPP).
This is the first time four candidates have run in an election during the current president’s term, as the last two elections had only one challenger against el-Sisi, who has never had to defend his candidacy in a runoff as he swept to victory with 97% of the vote in 2014 and 2018.
The incumbent president celebrated the presence of “so many candidates” in the elections, while the Egyptian National Electoral Authority promised impartiality between them and declared that it had not received any complaints during the electoral campaign, which was overshadowed by the war in the Gaza Strip. EFE