Saturday, 3 May 2014

Campaigning opens in Egypt's presidential race

Egyptian leftist leader and presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahi (C) is greeted by supporters during a press conference to unveil his program on April 30, 2014 in Cairo. (Photo: AFP - Khalen Desouki)
Published Saturday, May 3, 2014
Updated 1:09 pm: Campaigning opens Saturday in Egypt for a May election likely to be won by the ex-army chief who deposed the elected president, after deadly bombings underscored tensions ahead of the vote.
The May 26-27 presidential poll, meant to restore elected rule following the July overthrow of Islamist Mohammed Mursi, is widely expected to place former army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in power.
His only rival, Hamdeen Sabahi, came third in the 2012 election which Mursi won, and faces a groundswell of support for Sisi since the ouster of the divisive Islamist leader.
Sabahi says he represents the ideals of the 2011 uprising that overthrew veteran strongman Hosni Mubarak.
"The policies that were present under Mubarak are the same policies present now" under the military-installed regime, Sabahi told a campaign rally in the southern city of Assiut.
"Our goal is to gain the people's trust to change the policies of corruption and tyranny and poverty," he said in remarks broadcast live on television.
Sisi, reviled by Mursi's Islamist supporters, has vowed to stamp out a surge in militant attacks such as the two bombings on Friday that killed a policeman in the capital and a soldier in the Sinai Peninsula.
At least 1,400 people, mostly Islamists, have been killed in street clashes, including hundreds on August 14 alone, while thousands have been jailed and placed on trials.
The crackdown has extended to target secular activist groups that supported Mursi's overthrow but have since turned on the army-installed military as it tightens the clamps on dissent.
Last week, a court banned the April 6 movement, which spearheaded the revolt against Mubarak. Its leader Ahmed Maher is already in prison for participating in an unlicensed protest last year.
Another court that day sentenced to death 683 people, including the Brotherhood's supreme guide Mohamed Badie, for deadly riots in August.
Sisi has not yet unveiled his election program, with campaign officials saying he wanted to wait until campaigning begins. The campaigning period ends on May 23.
He is scheduled to give his first interview in months on Monday to two Egyptian television anchors, their broadcasters announced in a statement.
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