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Egypt: Opposition leaders call for boycott of presidential elections

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Egyptian President Fattah Sisi

Egyptian President Fattah Sisi is the only candidate so far approved, and the deadline for nomination of presidential candidates is Monday

Egyptian opposition leaders have called for a boycott of the upcoming presidential elections in which the only approved current is the incumbent, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, despite at least five other people having declared an interest in contesting the presidency.

“We call on our great people to boycott these elections entirely, and to not recognize anything that results from it,” read a statement which also went on to “condemn all security and administrative practices that the current regime took to prevent any fair competition against it in the upcoming elections.”

Signatories included Hisham Genena and Hazem Hosni, aides to Lt. Gen. Sami Anan, a would-be presidential candidate whose candidature was suspended after being arrested last Tuesday, a mere three days after he had declared his intention to run against Pres. Sisi. Anan is being accused of breaking the laws of military service.

Genena attended the Sunday meeting despite being attacked by unknown assailants the day before.

Other signatories were Mohammed Anwar Sadat, who vied for the presidency in 2012 but chose to suspend his run this year over concerns that his campaigners were at risk, Abdel Abol Fotouh, former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, which was designated a terrorist organization in after the overthrow Pres. Morsi in 2013, Essam Heggy, former advisor to Adly Mansour, Egypt’s interim president following Morsi’s overthrow.

The statement calls for the elections to be suspended, in addition to the disbandment of the electoral body, demands that are likely to go unheeded.

After all, the opposition issued similar boycott demands in Egypt’s 2015 parliamentary elections; turnout was a paltry 10%, but it didn’t stop the cogs of the regime from turning, and parliament is now dominated by Sisi-aligned legislators.

Sami Anan and Mohamed Sadat aren’t the only would-be presidential candidates forced out of the race: Col. Ahmed Konsowa, who had declared his intention to run in November, was promptly slapped with a 6 year jail term the following month, Lawyer Khalid Ali withdrew while protesting the intimidation of supporters, and former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik ended his campaign abruptly. One of Shafik’s lawyers claimed that the threat of a corruption charge had been used by the government to force Shafik to withdraw from the race.