Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—As speculation about the expected presidential candidacy of popular Egyptian Defense Minister Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi continues to grow, the secretary-general of the Presidential Supreme Electoral Commission, Hamdan Fahmy, said the delays in the election process were due to “technical issues.”
Egypt’s long-awaited presidential elections are set to take place later this year, with most analysts expecting the polls to be held in the summer. Egypt’s interim President Adly Mansour announced earlier this month that presidential elections would finish “before July 17.”
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on Thursday, Fahmy said: “Technical issues have caused the delay in the announcement of the timetable for the presidential elections and the opening of the registration of candidates.”
Official candidate registration has yet to open, and the only Egyptian politician to have officially announced his candidacy so far is Hamdeen Sabahi, with Sisi also likely to announce a presidential bid.
A controversial presidential election law was passed this month, paving the way for the elections to be held, though many politicians have criticized provisions that prevented candidates from challenging the election’s outcome. The election law also allows a referendum-style poll to be held if a candidate runs unopposed, and many opposition politicians believe this will open the way for an unchallenged Sisi presidential bid.
Fahmy denied that the Commission’s operations had been politicized. In an implicit denial of claims that the commission was backing a Sisi presidency, he said: “The Commission does not work according to the circumstances of one candidate.”
He added that the committee was currently training staff to use electronic voting machines, and that the training would continue until March 23. “Following that, we will start preparing to open the candidate registration period,” he said.
“The delay in the announcement of the elections timetable was caused by preparing and processing electronic voting machines. It was for purely technical reasons . . . and it is not true to suggest that it was for political or security reasons,” he added.
In reference to claims that the commission had postponed its operations until Sisi had prepared his nomination, Fahmi said: “We will not wait for anyone preparing to nominate themselves or organize their electoral circumstances, as some allege.”
He added: “We will start looking into announcing the dates of the elections and the opening of the registration of candidates from Wednesday, March 26, and not before.”