The Egyptian presidential election has been a shocking saga.
As the March 23 election day looms closer and closer, the deeply rooted corruption of the current regime has become more and more apparent. Indeed, the election has been exposed for what it truly is: a sham.
Over the past several weeks, candidate after candidate has been disqualified by the authorities from participating in the upcoming polls.
In one of the more recent installments to this tragic comedy, a little-known Egyptian politician added his name to the candidate list, minutes before the country’s nomination deadline was set to pass. Mousa Mostafa Mousa, the leader of the Ghad party, succeeded in obtaining a ballot for the presidential race late last week. Mousa had reportedly found eleventh-hour endorsements from several members of parliament, as well as 47,000 signatures from the public. All of this despite publicly declaring his intention to run the day before the deadline. In fact, according to local news sources, Mousa submitted his candidacy just fifteen minutes before the deadline closed.
Mousa now stands as the only challenger to current president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Considering that little more than a week ago Mousa fully supported Sisi as president and circulated social media messages to that effect, it seems that what is occurring in Egypt now can hardly be called a political race.
It has become abundantly clear that Sisi is behind this purge of candidates.
The Egyptian president first went after Ahmed Shafik, former senior commander in the air force and a prime minister under former president Hosni Mubarak. Not long after Shafik announced his intention to run for office, he was held against his will at a five-star hotel for two weeks until he reversed his decision to run. The former general even issued a statement praising the Egyptian dictator’s magnificent work for the country.
Other candidates did not receive such gentle treatment. In December, a military court sentenced Colonel Ahmed Qonsowa to six years in jail on trumped-up charges, after he announced his intended candidacy.
Another top challenger to drop out was labor lawyer, Khaled Ali. On 24 January, Ali announced that he too was withdrawing his candidacy, making the following statement to supporters: "The people’s confidence in the possibility of turning the election into an opportunity for a new beginning is unfortunately over.”
A week and a half earlier, Mohamed Anwar Sadat, a political dissident and nephew of the former president of the same name, also removed his name from the candidate list, stating that he feared what might happen to his campaign staff if he ran against Sisi. Sadat left his supporters with a similarly grim message: “There’s no political life anymore. It’s dead.”
Throughout all of this drama, the US administration has remained silent - no doubt concerned that protesting Sisi’s dictatorial tactics may usher in new leadership and risk bringing an end to the four-year streak of Egyptian cooperation with the US and its allies in the region.
With the results of the upcoming election more or less certain, the free world should recognize that Egypt’s presidential race is nothing more than a political farce.