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Egypt: Sabahy gains new support, faces new controversy - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Presidential hopeful leftist politician Hamdeen Sabahi greets his supporters outside the election commission office in Cairo, Egypt, on Saturday, April 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

Presidential hopeful Hamdeen Sabahy greets his supporters outside the election commission office in Cairo, Egypt, on Saturday, April 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

London, Asharq Al-Awsat—The Socialist Popular Alliance announced it is backing Hamdeen Sabahy’s presidential bid on Saturday, as the Nasserite candidate found himself embroiled in controversy following the leak of a recording allegedly of him saying he would seek to bring his election rival, Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, to trial should he become president.

The Socialist Popular Alliance is the second major political party to back Sabahy’s candidacy, after the Egyptian Al-Dostour Party last week. Socialist Popular Alliance Secretary-General Talaat Fahmy said that the party will participate in drawing up Sabahy’s electoral manifesto in comments to local media.

“Sabahy has always been part of the Nasserite camp. He always stands with the workers and the poor,” Fahmy told Egypt’s Al-Ahram newspaper.

Sabahy called on all democratic, revolutionary and civil parties in Egypt to back his presidential bid during a speech thanking the Socialist Popular Alliance for its support. “With our votes, we can make our revolution succeed,” he said.

The Nasserite candidate had earlier met with Salafist Al-Nour Party leaders on Friday, seeking to gain the support of the sole major Islamist party that backed the ouster of former President Mohamed Mursi.

During an interview with MBC earlier in the day, a senior Salafist leader with strong ties to the Al-Nour Party, Yasser Al-Borhami, said that his personal opinion is that Sisi is a more capable candidate than Sabahy. The Al-Nour Party is set to meet next week to choose which candidate, if any, they will back in the presidential elections scheduled for May 26–27.

Egypt’s independent Al-Youm Al-Saba newspaper carried an alleged leaked audio recording of Sabahy meeting with a group of young Egyptians, during which he allegedly stated that he would seek to bring his campaign rival, former defense minister Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi, to trial if he becomes president.

The unconfirmed audio recording featured an Egyptian youth activist, reportedly named Sherif Diab, saying: “Justice during the transition period that does not include [former defense ministers] Sisi and Tantawi being brought to trial is no justice at all.”

A voice, believed to belong to Sabahy, responded: “The crimes of bloodshed, graft and political corruption will be dealt with justly . . . I do not regard Sisi as a criminal, but I will seek to bring him to trial according to a particular concept based on social consensus with the objective of treating the wound without starting new conflicts.”

The Sabahy campaign had earlier denied the reports, prompting Al-Youm Al-Saba to publish the audio recording on its website.