Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, president of Egypt has officially announced his candidacy for another term in the upcoming December elections, where he is widely anticipated to secure victory. This decision comes at a critical time for the nation, as it grapples with its most severe economic crisis in years.
The elections scheduled for December 10-12 will spotlight the economic challenges of Egypt with inflation soaring to a historic high of 37%, and the country’s sovereign bonds trading in distressed territory. The government is actively working to secure additional funding through a $3 billion International Monetary Fund rescue package and through the sale of state assets to energy-rich Gulf nations, including the United Arab Emirates.
President El-Sisi of Egypt has been in power for 9 years
Speaking late on Monday, El-Sisi praised the achievements of the state in recent years. He said, “God chooses the one who is fit. “As I heeded the call of the Egyptians before, today, I answer their call again.”
Any potential challenger faces the formidable task of displacing a former field marshal who enjoys the support of the influential military and other state institutions. The president has held power since 2014, a year after an army-backed popular uprising removed his Islamist predecessor, Mohamed Mursi, during which El-Sisi served as defense minister.
El-Sisi lists his past and present achievements to the Egyptians
Leading up to his announcement, El-Sisi participated in state events to highlight what he claims are the achievements of the past decade. These include a significant overhaul of infrastructure, the establishment of a new administrative capital city, and the expansion of the Suez Canal.
Critics who argue that the billions of dollars spent on such projects have contributed to a debt crisis, making life increasingly unaffordable for many in the Middle East’s most populous country, have been dismissed by El-Sisi.
On Monday, he reiterated his commitment to constructing a New Republic, a vision that he asserts requires sacrifices from all individuals, “If the price of development and prosperity for the nation means we do not eat or drink, we will do it,” El-Sisi told a conference on Sept. 30, according to the state-run Ahram Online news website.
Challenges range across oil issues to naira devaluation
Egypt has devalued its currency three times since early 2022, and another significant adjustment is anticipated before it can successfully undergo a crucial IMF program review. Demonstrating the ongoing challenges faced by the country, the non-oil private sector saw a deeper decline in September, as indicated by a Purchasing Managers’ Index.
Investors are anticipating another currency devaluation following the upcoming election. Egypt is grappling with a severe shortage of foreign currency, with the pound trading at approximately 40 per US dollar on the black market, marking a 22% depreciation compared to its official value of 30.9.
El-Sisi attempts a third-time bid
Having secured victory in the 2014 and 2018 elections with over 90% of the votes, El-Sisi’s potential re-election for a new six-year term could extend his rule until around 2030.
This would surpass the tenures of Gamal Abdel Nasser and Anwar Sadat, making him Egypt’s longest-serving president after Hosni Mubarak, who ruled for nearly 30 years before being ousted by protests in 2011.
Authorities are presenting El-Sisi’s candidacy for re-election as vital for preserving the political stability Egypt has enjoyed since the removal of Mohamed Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013.
Prior to El-Sisi’s announcement on Monday, large gatherings of his supporters congregated at notary offices nationwide to endorse his candidacy. According to Egyptian law, presidential candidates must obtain the support of either a minimum of 20 members of parliament or 25,000 registered voters from 15 provinces.
Other candidates vying for the presidency
As of now, three additional candidates have garnered the necessary support to officially join the presidential race: Hazem Omar from the Republican People’s Party, Abdel-Sanad Yamam representing the liberal Wafd Party, and Farid Zahran from the Egyptian Social Democratic Party.
Reports from local media indicate that certain potential candidates for the post of president of Egypt encountered challenges in securing endorsements due to alleged harassment of their supporters. However, the National Elections Commission has dismissed these claims.
A prospective contender, former lawmaker Ahmed El-Tantawi, took to X, the platform previously known as Twitter, encouraging his supporters, he said, “cling to hope despite all the pain and to struggle until we achieve our simplest and most important right — to build our present and create our future.”
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