Ex-army chief, leftist to seek Egyptian presidency
CAIRO — The former army general who toppled Egypt's first freely elected president will face a leftist politician in the presidential election next month, because they were the only candidates to enter, the committee organizing the vote said on Sunday.
The committee had received paperwork from former army chief Abdel Fatah al-Sisi and former parliamentarian and presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahi, its head said during a news conference hours after the deadline for nominations had passed.
The elections will be held in a barren political climate, three years after the uprising that overthrew autocrat Hosni Mubarak raised hopes of a robust democracy in the biggest Arab nation.
There will be no Islamist candidate, in contrast to the hotly contested 2012 presidential race that featured more than a dozen rivals from across the political spectrum and was won by Mohamed Morsy of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Al-Sisi, who deposed Morsy last year, is expected to win the vote easily. He has gained cultlike adulation from supporters who view him as a savior who can end the political turmoil that has dogged the country since the army-backed popular uprising that ended Mubarak's three-decade rule.
Islamists, many of whom have been driven underground, view al-Sisi as the mastermind of a coup.
Thousands of them have been jailed, and the Brotherhood has been banned and declared a terrorist organization, with its top leaders headed to trial. Secular activists, including ones who played a key role in the revolt that toppled Mubarak, have been rounded up. There are no signs political tensions will ease anytime soon.
Al-Sisi would be the latest in a line of Egyptian rulers drawn from the military that was only briefly broken during Morsy's year in office.
The other contender, Sabahi, heads a political alliance called the Popular Current and was a member of parliament under Mubarak. He was third in the 2012 presidential vote after Morsy and ex-air force chief Ahmed Shafik.
Sabahi said last month that he doubted al-Sisi would bring democracy if elected, alleging that as Mubarak's former chief of military intelligence, he was responsible for human rights abuses.