Party head in last-minute bid to for Egypt poll

Mousa Mustafa becomes only challenger to Al Sissi in March polls

16:42 January 29, 2018
chairperson Moussa Mostafa Moussa

Cairo: A party leader on Monday applied to stand for president, becoming the sole challenger to President Abdul Fattah Al Sissi in the March elections.

Mousa Mustafa, the chief of the liberal Al Ghad Party, launched his bid on the last day of candidacy registration for the presidential polls scheduled to start on March 26.

Mustafa underwent medical examinations and secured the support of 20 members of parliaments, necessary requirements to contest the presidential elections, his party said.

A lawyer for him submitted his candidacy papers to the election commission, one hour before the end of candidacy registration.

Al Ghad party, co-founded by political dissident Ayman Nour, is not represented in the Egyptian parliament. Mustafa became the head of the party in May 2011.

He defended on Monday his last-minute presidential plan. “The absence of competitors to President Al Sissi was the motive for the party to nominate me to contest the elections,” he said in press remarks.

Al Ghad already announced backing Al Sissi’s re-election. The ultra-conservative Al Nour Party Sunday made a similar announcement, saying that Al Sissi is the most capable of preserving the country’s “stability and unity”.

Mustafa’s presidential bid came two days after Al Wafd, one of Egypt’s oldest parties, rejected a plan by its chief Al Sayyed Al Badawi to stand for president. Al Wafd renewed its backing for Al Sissi’s running for a second and final term in office.

Al Sissi, an ex-defence minister, has been ruling Egypt since 2014. His current term ends in June.

Several would-be contenders have pulled out of the presidential race in recent weeks.

The pullouts have raised the likely that the coming elections will be reduced to a single-contender referendum, which could lead to a low vote.

Retired army general, Sami Annan, was on Tuesday barred from running after the army summoned him for interrogation after he had announced his intention to stand for president without permission in violation of military rules. The army also accused Annan, an ex-chief of the military staff of inciting people against the military establishment.

The following day, prominent rights lawyer, Khaled Ali, dropped out of the race, alleging unfair competition.

Earlier this month, former prime minister Ahmad Shafiq withdrew his bid to run for president, saying he is not qualified enough to lead the country.