Pro-Sisi surprise candidate emerges as Egypt election nominations close

Sisi came to power on the back of a military coup in 2013, which overthrew the North African country's first-ever democratically elected president, Muhammad Morsi, the leader of the banned Muslim Brotherhood.

Several leading opposition figures had called on Sunday for a boycott of the March election, citing a wave of repression that has cleared the field of challengers to Sisi and left his top opponent in jail.

Under former president and military man Hosni Mubarak, whose draconian rule helped spark the 2011 uprising in Egypt, protesters were attacked in the streets by men bused in to the capital in police vehicles, while opposition voters were sometimes attacked by knife-wielding men at polling stations.

Despite this, Egypt's electoral commission has insisted it will ensure March's vote is fair and transparent. In order to run in the elections, presidential hopefuls need to gather at least 20 endorsements from Members of Parliament, or 25,000 endorsements from citizens from at least 15 governorates with a minimum of 1000 endorsements from each one.

Mousa submitted his official paperwork just minutes before the final deadline.

Sisi's campaign said on Monday it had received nomination pledges from 915,000 citizens. El-Sissi, by contrast, is said to have earned over 1 million pledges, with the backing of over 500 of parliament's 595 lawmakers.

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"We have a respectable program that we are offering to the Egyptian people and we are presenting ourselves just like any other candidate would", the deputy head of the Ghad party, Mahmoud Mousa, said.

They include former military chief of staff Sami Anan, who last week was accused of illegally announcing his intention to run before getting the military's approval. It was abruptly halted after he was arrested last week and accused of running for office without military permission.

Analysts said Mousa's snap nomination suggested the state was looking to avoid a single-candidate election.

President El-Sisi, whose current presidential term will end in June, won the 2014 presidential elections in a two-man race with almost 97 percent of the vote.

Mousa said he will convene a press conference on Monday at 6 p.m.at the al-Ghad Party headquarters where the details of his candidacy and election platform will be announced.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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