Egypt Gears Up for Elections Amid Threats of Boycott

Article Summary
Now that the political campaigns have come to a close, Egypt is bracing itself for its first presidential election since Mubarak was forced from office in 2011. But Siham Boursti reports that some, including the youth movement, are threatening to instigate a second revolution, since the president’s powers have not been clearly defined.

Egyptian politics appear to be in a state of considerable confusion. Large groups of Egyptian revolutionary youth announced that they will boycott the upcoming elections and prepare for a second revolution since the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and other political parties and forces have failed to define the new presidential powers in their draft of the Constitution. Meanwhile, the April 6 Youth Movement has established headquarters across the country in order to monitor the elections and prevent fraud. At the same time, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafist Al-Nour Party have taken advantage of soaring food prices by distributing food aid to voters in the lead-up to the presidential elections.

On May 21, two days before election day, all electoral campaigns ceased after a three-week campaigning marathon. Egyptians will cast their votes in an unprecedented and competitive atmosphere. The past few weeks have witnessed heated campaigns launched by the sparring presidential candidates who have used newspapers and radio stations to promote their electoral platforms. For the first time in Egypt’s history, society was able to watch televised debates between the contestants. Aside from a few benign disagreements among the candidates’ supporters, the presidential race has gone smoothly. The Supreme Committee for the Presidential elections threatened to put those who do not cease their campaigns in prison.

Most candidates have completed their nation-wide tours and conferences. On May 20, Hamdeen Sabahi met with leading journalist Mohammad Hassanein Heikal, along with director Khaled Youssef, producer Mohammad Al-Adel, and artist Sameh Al-Suraiti. Sabahi sought Heikal’s advice before the final round of the presidential race. Heikal was enthusiastic about meeting the independent candidate, since both of them are Nasserists. After the meeting, Sabahi toured the central Cairo region as his last campaign stop. Abdel Moneim Abdoul Fotouh, Ahmed Shafik, Amr Moussa and Mohamed Morsi held conferences among masses of supporters.

As Egyptian political parties and civil society urged the Egyptian people to vote, the revolutionary youth insisted on boycotting the vote since the current ruling forces have failed to define the new presidential powers. In a statement to El-Khabar newspaper, political activist Mahmoud Abdel-Qader said that he was very enthusiastic about the landmark elections, as it will be the first time that the Egyptian people will be able to choose their next president. “We do not care who will be the next president as much as we care about the articles of the new Constitution. Our main demand was to have a new Constitution before electing a new president. The government was supposed to establish a constitutional committee to draft the new constitution, but this was thwarted by certain political parties and their greed for power. Is it logical for the people to elect a president without being aware of the powers granted to him?” he said.

For its part, the April 6 Movement established headquarters across the country to monitor the presidential elections. Meanwhile, the Emsek Folol (Grab the Remnants) movement has been shredding photos of Amr Moussa and Ahmed Shafik, who are considered to be the remnants of Mubarak’s regime.

Although many revolutionary youth have called for boycotting the upcoming vote, the rest of the population is torn between Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh and Hamdeen Sabahi. The country’s senior population is still undecided between Amr Moussa and Ahmed Shafiq.

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