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Egypt presidential hopeful won’t seek Islamist votes

Leftist Sabahi, who came third in last elections, says he has higher chances this time to win the upcoming presidential race

Published: Updated:

Egypt’s leftist politician Hamdeen Sabahi, the first politician to declare his participation in the upcoming presidential election, told Al Arabiya News Channel on Sunday that he is not seeking votes from Muslim Brotherhood members and described his chances to win the presidential race as “high.”

“I do not seek votes from people who see January 25 as a setback and July 30 as a coup,” Sabahi, head of the socialist Popular Current, said. “I am not seeking Brotherhood votes…I think that is obvious and absolute.”

Expressing his optimism for his chances of success, Sabahi said “In the last elections everyone thought I would have weak chances, but everyone was surprised when I got 5 million votes that God blessed me with.”

“This upcoming elections, it will be more difficult, but my chances will be higher,” he added.

Egypt’s January 25 revolution toppled then President Husni Mubarak and paved the way for the coming of MohammadMursi to take power in 2012. During Mursi’s tenure, the Egyptian parliament was dominated by Islamists for the first time.

Mursi, who belongs to the Muslim Brotherhood movement, was ousted a year later in what is dubbed as Egypt’s second revolution on July 30, 2013 through a popularly-backed coup.

Sabahi, one of the prominent leaders of the National Salvation Front, was among the politicians involved in the toppling of the Islamist Mursi.

In his interview with Al Arabiya News Channel, the politician defended his decision to enter the race even though it is widely expected Egypt’s army chief field marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi will win, despite not yet announcing his candidacy.

Sabahi stated that he decided to run for president to save Egypt from a “referendum,” referring to the overwhelming support behind a singular candidate. The presidential hopeful says his participation in the race gives the elections a greater sense of “pluralism and democracy.”

He said his platform for the presidency will prioritize social justice.

Undeterred by Sisi’s popularity, Sabahi stated, “I will go through it, with the intention of victory.”

Respect for Sisi, the army

While Sabahi said he respected Sisi, he advised the military not to get involved in the elections as it will create division in a country that has already witnessed “two revolutions.”

“I used to, and I am still and will always express the deserved respect of our army,” for its involvement in Egypt’s uprisings.

“I express my respect to marshal Sisi for his stance on July 30 and [participating in the elections] has nothing to do with being pro or against him,” he explained.

While Sabahi stated he respects Sisi, he had criticism for other political figures and the new cabinet.

Sabahi said the government of former interim Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi, while having some of the “revolutionary” spirit, was too bureaucratic, adding that the new cabinet formed Saturday led by new Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab was even more so.

The new government “is now all filtered,” he said, “now it is all bureaucratic.”

He also slammed the protest law issued by Beblawi’s government, which demands Egyptians get approval before demonstrating or marching in the street.

He said the law “wasn’t used against the violent Brotherhood but against the revolutionary youth.”

Despite not seeking Islamist votes, Sabahi did say Egypt had created "incorrect" policies" in relationship to "terrorism," referencing the now black listed Muslim Brotherhood.

Elections are scheduled to held by mid-April.