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'No one better': Egyptians rally for Sisi third term

While Egypt's Sisi has yet to announced his intention to run, crowds gathered in Cairo to show support
— Cairo (AFP)

Thousands of Egyptians rallied Monday in Cairo, calling for President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to declare his candidacy in upcoming elections, as convoys of buses carrying his image blocked major streets.

Egyptians will head to the polls on December 10-12 for a vote the 68-year-old former army chief is widely expected to win.

While Sisi has not yet announced his intention to run for a third term, crowds gathered in the capital to show their support.

"There is no one better for the future," said Hassan Afifi, a teacher who escorted a bus full of his students to a rally in western Cairo.

"We all came out to support President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi for the giant projects he has undertaken."

A year after deposing Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, Sisi won 96 percent of the vote in presidential elections in 2014.

Four years later, he scored a 97-percent victory against one of his own supporters, after more prominent candidates were sidelined or arrested.

Patriotic music blared from speakers and banners carrying the leader's image appeared across the capital on Monday, AFP correspondents said.

The sails of boats on the Nile river were emblazoned with Sisi's photo and slogans including "yes to stability", the correspondents added.

State-aligned media has for the past week been broadcasting messages of support and footage showing hundreds lining up in front of registry offices to submit nominations for Sisi.

In order to be eligible for candidacy, applicants must obtain nominations from either 20 members of parliament or 25,000 people from at least 15 governorates across Egypt.

Sisi may be facing his most difficult election yet as Egyptians grow increasingly frustrated with a crippling economic crisis that has seen inflation soar to 39.7 percent and the local currency lose half its value since March 2022.

Some presidential hopefuls have emerged from the woodwork of an opposition decimated by Sisi's decade-long crackdown on dissent.

A handful of party leaders have said they had already gathered the necessary nominations from parliament.

Another challenger, former parliamentarian Ahmed al-Tantawi, has been trying to rally popular support on the campaign trail.

The election is already fraught with accusations of repression, with 44-year-old Tantawi -- an outspoken critic of Sisi's rule -- accusing the government of harassing his supporters, preventing them from filing nominations and tapping his phone.

Dozens of his supporters have been detained, according to rights groups.

A report from the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab found Tantawi's phone had been tapped for two years. It said "with high confidence" Cairo was behind the hack.