Amid much controversy about the performance of Egypt’s Higher Council for the Armed Forces (SCAF) and as calls for ending military rule and establishing a civilian government gain more ground, a coalition that supports SCAF head and former Defense Minister Mohamed Hussein Tantawi for the presidency raised many eyebrows.
Under the slogan “A popular demand for stability,” a new group called Egypt Above All launched a campaign that calls upon Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi to run for president.
Hundreds of posters featuring Tantawi in uniform with the Egyptian flag in the background and the headline “The popular campaign to elect the field marshal as president” were seen in the main streets and squares in the capital Cairo and Mediterranean city of Alexandra.
The campaign was scheduled to be launched a month ago, but the unrest through which the country had gone during this time, especially the sectarian clashes that took place on October 9, necessitated a postponement, said lawyer Mahmoud Attia, the coalition coordinator and the spokesperson of the campaign and whose name is featured at the bottom of the posters.
“We are the representatives of the silent majority which sees Tantawi as the best candidate in the coming stage and the only one capable of leading the country towards real democracy,” he told the Egyptian daily independent al-Masry al-Youm.
Attia explained that most Egyptians trust neither the potential presidential candidates nor the political elite that talks in the name of the revolution.
“They are also uneasy about activists and members of movements and coalitions that are always suspected of receiving foreign funding.”
For Attia and his coalition, the fact that Tantawi, together with SCAF, supported the revolution and saved it from abortion attempts by the former regime makes him the most suitable president of Egypt.
The campaign, he added, will start with collecting signatures that support the field marshal’s candidacy.
“We will start with Cairo and Giza, then coastal governorates like Alexandria and Port Said, followed by Upper Egypt. We aim to collect a million signatures.”
To be on the safe side as far as funding is concerned, Attia pointed out that the campaign would only accept donations from members of the coalition.
The main purpose of the campaign is to put popular pressure on Tantawi to run in the upcoming presidential elections, said Ahmed Saad, field coordinator at the Egypt Above All coalition.
“We want the field marshal to know that his running for presidency is a popular demand.”
Saad objected to reservations about Tantawi voiced by a sizable portion of politicians and activists regarding his connection to the former regime.
“The field marshal is the leader of a military and independent institution that cannot by any means be thought of as affiliated to the former regime,” he told al-Masry al-Youm.
(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)