Cairo: A political party led by Ahmad Shafik, an ex-presidential contender, endorsed on Friday a bid by incumbent President Abdul Fattah Al Sissi to seek a second term in the country’s March elections.
The endorsement comes more than a month after Shafik, a former prime minister, announced renouncing an earlier announcement to stand for president.
Secretary-General of Shafik’s National Movement Party, Ahmad Al Dabh, said that the decision to back Al Sissi in the upcoming elections was in response to the “wishes” of majority of the party’s members.
“The party is convinced that the current phase and its dangers require that we should be united behind President Al Sissi,” Al Dabh added in a statement released after a meeting of the party’s supreme board.
Egypt has experienced a wave of militant attacks since 2013 when the army, then led by Al Sissi, deposed Islamist president Mohammad Mursi following enormous protests against his one-year rule.
Al Dabh called on Egyptians to vote en masse in the presidential polls due to be held over three days, beginning March 26.
The opposition has called for a boycott of the vote, calling it an ”absurdity”.
The sole challenger to Al Sissi in the upcoming election is Moussa Mostafa, a little-known politician and self-declared supporter of Al Sissi.
“The Egyptian state is experiencing exceptional circumstances, which make national unity necessary,” said Al Dabh.
Shafik, 76, returned to Egypt in December from the United Arab Emirates to which he fled in 2012 after he narrowly lost in presidential polls to Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood.
on January 7, Shafik withdrew his bid to run for president, saying he is not qualified enough to lead the country.
Other potential candidates dropped out of the race or were barred from running.