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Pro-Sisi politician to 'run against Sisi' as last-minute candidate

Incumbent strongman Sisi is the only real candidate in March's election [Getty]

Date of publication: 29 January, 2018

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The last-minute surprise candidacy comes with Sisi, who has led an authoritarian regime since 2014, set to romp home to victory and another four-year term in the March 26-28 polls.

Mussa Mustapha Mussa, who heads Egypt's liberal Al-Ghad party that backs President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, told AFP on Monday before nominations closed that he will contest the presidential election.

The last-minute surprise candidacy comes with Sisi, who has led an authoritarian regime since 2014, set to romp home to victory and another four-year term in the March 26-28 polls.

There were immediate doubts raised on social media that Mussa is little more than an extra in Sisi's sham election, with some noticing that his campaign's Facebook page is still declaring support for Sisi.

The run-up to the close of nominations has seen any potential opposition sidelined, and many members of Al-Ghad who were once seen as opponents of ousted president Hosni Mubarak are now considered Sisi supporters.

"I am finishing up with some remaining matters and will then go to the National Election Authority to present my candidacy," Mussa said.

He said he had gathered more than the necessary endorsements to stand.

The new candidate Mussa Mustapha Mussa

Under Egyptian law, presidential hopefuls must collect endorsements from at least 20 lawmakers, or at least 25,000 registered voters, with a minimum of 1,000 signatures from each of at least 15 provinces.

Mussa would be the only other candidate to Sisi after all other possible challengers either ruled themselves out or were subjected to legal proceedings.

Pro-Sisi banner on the candidate's Facebook page

Last week, media reports said Al-Sayyed Al-Badawi, leader of the old liberal Al-Wafd party, was a potential candidate.

But he withdrew on Saturday and announced his backing for Sisi.

In the 2014 election, the official results showed that Sisi had secured 96.9 percent of the votes.

On Sunday, he and his regime were accused by five public figures of quashing any opposition.

They called on voters to boycott the election.

They said they "condemn all security and administrative practices that the current regime took to prevent any fair competition against it in the upcoming elections" in a statement.

The boycott document was signed by a barred presidential hopeful's top aides - Hisham Geneina, a former anti-corruption chief, and Hazem Hosni, a political science professor at Cairo University.

They had been part of the team campaigning for General Sami Anan, a former armed forces chief of staff.

Anan was accused of illegally announcing, on January 20, his intention to run for president before getting the military's approval.

Sunday's call for voters to boycott the election was also signed by 2012 presidential candidate Mohamed Anwar Sadat, a dissident and nephew of the former president of the same name.

On January 15, Sadat said he would not throw his hat into the ring this time because the climate was not conducive to free and fair elections.

The boycott call was also signed by moderate Islamist and 2012 presidential candidate Abdel Moneim Abol Fotouh, a former senior leader of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The fifth signatory was Essam Heggy, a NASA space scientist who worked as an adviser to former interim president Adly Mansour.

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