London, Asharq Al-Awsat—Egypt’s presidential race took a step forward on Saturday as Nasserite presidential hopeful Hamdeen Sabahi officially submitted his candidacy to the Presidential Elections Commission, making him the second candidate on the ballot for the elections scheduled for late May.
Sabahi, who came third in the 2012 presidential elections, submitted over 31,000 endorsements for his presidential campaign. Under the Egyptian constitution adopted earlier this year, 25,000 endorsements are required to officially register a presidential candidate.
Sabahi has now joined popular former defense minister Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi in the campaign. Lawyer Mortada Mansour the only other Egyptian political to announce his intention to run in the elections scheduled for May 26–27, although has yet to secure the required 25,000 endorsements. Sisi’s campaign announced it had gathered more than 500,000 endorsements earlier this week.
Egypt’s elections commission said candidacy applications would close on April 20.
Egypt’s Al-Ahram newspaper reported that Sabahi personally submitted his presidential elections endorsements to the Presidential Elections Commission (PEC) headquarters early Saturday. “We are fighting a vicious battle for social justice and freedom, and I hope the presidential elections are fair and transparent,” the newspaper quoted him as saying on arrival at the PEC headquarters.
Egypt’s liberal Constitution Party, founded by Mohamed El-Baradei and now led by Hala Shukrallah, announced its backing for a Sabahi presidency earlier this week. The Constitution Party is one of Egypt’s main liberal parties, and its backing of the Nasserite candidate represents an important source of support for Sabahi, who is facing a tough task in challenging widely popular Sisi. So far, the Constitution Party and his own Karama Party are the only two political parties to have announced their backing for Sabahi.
Egypt’s Tamarod Movement has split its support in the presidential elections, with some founding members of the youth movement leaving the group to support Sabahi. Tamarod, which was instrumental in ousting former president Mohamed Mursi last July, has officially endorsed Sisi.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday about the endorsement from the Constitution Party, Sabahi sought to portray himself as the “revolutionary” candidate. “The revolution which rocked the country’s squares [and] dropped two heads of two regimes has not managed to make it to [a position of] authority. Neither the corruption of Mubarak nor the oppression of Mursi, nor any new mix, whatever disguising masks it puts on . . . will be able to live and rule,” he said.