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Egypt: Sabahy announces electoral platform amid controversy - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Egyptian presidential hopeful Hamdeen Sabahy (L) looks on during his first press conference to launch his presidential campaign, in Cairo, Egypt, 30 April 2014. (EPA/Khaled Elfiqi)

Egyptian presidential hopeful Hamdeen Sabahy (L) looks on during a press conference to launch his presidential campaign in Cairo, Egypt, on April 30, 2014. (EPA/Khaled Elfiqi)

Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—Egyptian presidential hopeful Hamdeen Sabahy officially unveiled his election platform on Wednesday, pledging to repeal a controversial anti-protest law, pardon “non-criminal” offenders and crack down on terrorism.

Speaking during a press conference in Cairo, Sabahy announced that his campaign slogan would be “social justice, democracy and national independence, in order to achieve Egypt’s hopes for the future and rebuild it from the beginning.”

“These are those who would say that the electoral program is too ambitious or too hopeful, but we see it as a right for a nation, which has made sacrifices and has not yet reaped the benefits,” he told reporters.

“We ask Egyptians to stand by their legitimate dreams, from which they have been deprived by authoritarian rule,” he added. Sabahy is set to take on popular former defense minister Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi in the forthcoming presidential elections, with few believing that he has a real chance of winning.

Official campaigning is set to begin on Saturday, with Sabahy coming under fire from some parties for announcing his election platform early. A Sisi campaign spokesman told Asharq Al-Awsat: “Sisi will not break the presidential election campaigning law and will not appear publicly or announce details of his election platform before Saturday, regardless of the position of the rival campaign.”

The spokesman added that the Sisi campaign is not concerned with the actions of the Sabahy campaign or their legality, adding that “there are well-respected legal figures in the Egyptian Presidential Election Commission who are monitoring this, and they will decide if any party has committed a violation.”

The Presidential Election Commission (PEC) issued a statement on Thursday announcing that it is considering taking legal action against Sabahy for violating campaign rules.

“Presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahy was informed that he violated the presidential elections campaigning rules when he held a press conference to present his presidential program,” the PEC statement said, adding that presidential campaigning officially opens on May 3.

The PEC also accused privately owned TV channel CBC Extra of violating campaign rules for broadcasting the Sabahy press conference, adding that it will investigate the case further before issuing a final decision.