Egyptians resigned to Sisi's re-election as another candidate falls

Presidential election campaign dominated by candidates barred from running

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi speaks during the closing session of "Tale of a Homeland" conference and announces intention to run for a second term in Cairo, Egypt, January 19, 2018 in this handout picture courtesy of the Egyptian Presidency. The Egyptian Presidency/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY
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With former Armed Forces chief of staff Sami Anan detained and leftist lawyer Khaled Ali under pressure to withdraw from the race, Egyptians are coming to terms with an election set to return Abdel Fattah El Sisi to the presidency.

Mr Anan, who has assailed Mr El Sisi's social and economic policies, saying Egypt "must be human state before it is a state of stone", was summoned Tuesday by a military court.

The Armed Forces General Command said the 69 year-old had pursued his election bid without prior approval from the military, and accused him of "explicitly inciting the armed forces" in his declaration speech on Saturday.

"All the phones of the campaign team have been shut off and all we know is that they took my father around 11 am while he was on the way to his political party headquarters,” said the candidate’s son, Samir Anan.


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Analysts say the election is shaping up to be a damp squib.

"There are democracies that started out with restrictive electoral systems that evolved into pluralistic regimes, that protect their nations from violent revolutions," said Amr El Shobki, political scientist and chairman of the Arab Forum For Alternatives think tank. "Unfortunately, this idea has been ruled out and any competitive spirit will be absent."

"This is a loss for the pro-Sisi movement, which still has a significant support despite the decline in his popularity. He is viewed as the military figure who saved Egypt from the Muslim Brotherhood, and Anan as a military leader accused of assisting their rise to power."

With Mr Anan in detention and the withdrawal from the race last week of Mohammed Anwar Sadat, the last chance for a two man race rests with Khalid Ali, a 45-year-old human rights lawyer scheduled to announce the direction of his candidacy in Cairo on Wednesday evening.

Sources close to Mr Ali's campaign say they have not yet reached the threshold of 25,000 signatures required by the National Electoral Commission.

They are also debating the impact of Mr Anan's arrest on their already unlikely campaign.

"The way the state dealt with Anan is of greater concern than whether his bid was actually a violation of military law," said Mr Ali's campaign spokesman Amr Abdel Rahman. "But all options are still on the table."

The path, however, may already be blocked.

"Khaled Ali must announce his withdrawal immediately," said supporter and Cairo University graduate student Hamada El Semelawey, 27.

"It's over."

A massive effort characterised Mr El Sisi’s re-election drive even before he officially announced Saturday that he would another four-year term.

The pro-El Sisi "In Order to Build It" campaign said last month that 13 million citizens had signed its petition urging the president to run again.

He has also been endorsed by 464 of Egypt's 596 members of parliament.

Many in Egypt's business community cite the upbeat reviews for Mr El Sisi's economic reforms voiced by The International Monetary Fund which has revised its growth outlook to to 4.8 percent for the current fiscal year.