The Upcoming Presidential Elections in Egypt
20 Mar 2018
Egypt is set to go to the polls between 26 and 28 March 2018 to elect a new president in the fourth contested presidential election since Egypt’s revolution in 1952, the first being in 2005. Voters from abroad were able to cast their vote between 16 and 18 March. A second-round vote will take place between 19 to 21 and 24 to 26 April 2018, but it is unlikely that this will be required as there are only two candidates in the race – President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Moussa Mostafa Moussa of El-Ghad Party. If no runoff is necessary, the result of the vote will be announced on 02 April 2018. If it is necessary, the result will be announced on 01 May 2018. Data suggests that there are around 60 million eligible voters in the race. Under the constitution, a victory for Sisi would mark his second and final term.
• Elections in Egypt are due to be held between 26 and 28 March 2018; elections for Egyptians abroad took place between 16 and 18 March 2018.
• There are only two candidates in the race – President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Moussa Mostafa Moussa of El-Ghad Party.
• Some have boycotted the vote that President Sisi is expected to win. Egypt remains in a state of emergency.
Political: Egypt is set to go to the polls between 26 and 28 March 2018 to elect a new president in the fourth contested presidential election since Egypt’s revolution in 1952, the first being in 2005. Voters from abroad were able to cast their vote between 16 and 18 March. A second-round vote will take place between 19 to 21 and 24 to 26 April 2018, but it is unlikely that this will be required as there are only two candidates in the race – President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Moussa Mostafa Moussa of El-Ghad Party. If no runoff is necessary, the result of the vote will be announced on 02 April 2018. If it is necessary, the result will be announced on 01 May 2018. Data suggests that there are around 60 million eligible voters in the race. Under the constitution, a victory for Sisi would mark his second and final term.
Solace Global Comment
President Sisi – President Sisi is expected to win a second term with a high proportion of the vote. He is Egypt’s sixth president and has been in office since 2014 after he had earlier orchestrated the overthrow of President Morsi while head of the military. He received the endorsement of 464 members of the Egyptian Parliament, around two thirds of the body. Sisi has been accused of ruling with an iron fist, cracking down on dissent, and encouraging a cult of personality. Many Egyptians hoped that Sisi’s rise to the presidency would bring much needed stability to Egypt. This has not been the case. A state of emergency has been in place since April 2017 after 45 people were killed in two Coptic Church bombings (and numerous previous and subsequent attacks). The interim period has seen a number of terror attacks targeted at churchgoers, mosques, civilians, and security forces. Sisi has also been unable to quell the insurgency in the North Sinai region (from where many terror attacks are planned and orchestrated). His premiership has also seen protests, most notably over the decision to renounce a claim over two Red Sea islands, effectively handing them to Saudi Arabia. In economics, the unemployment rate remains stubbornly over ten per cent, per capita growth remains stagnant, inflation is in the double-digits, and public debt is over 100 per cent of the size of the economy.
Sisi has promised to kickstart the economy which is currently under a $12bn International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout. He has laid out plans to cut taxes and bureaucracy to promote economic growth. He has also promised development for the aforementioned unstable Sinai region.
Moussa Mostafa Moussa – President Sisi’s opponent in the 26 to 28 March election is Moussa Mostafa Moussa, chairman of the liberal El-Ghad Party. Moussa’s candidacy is seen by many as a way to legitimise the vote; he submitted his official paperwork to run just 15 minutes before the deadline and only announced his intention to do so the day before. He has been a Sisi loyalist and last year formed a campaign called, “Supporters of President el-Sisi’s nomination for a second term”. Moussa has hit back at suggestions he is a phony candidate, stating that he has “a vision that can be achieved by being part of the system.” Moussa has hardly campaigned in the lead up to the vote and has actively shunned the political limelight.
Experts have already criticised the election as being a sham, with no serious opposition challenging President Sisi. The Civil Democratic Movement announced on 30 January 2018 that it would boycott the vote. A number of other candidates publicly discussed the potential of running against Sisi but the incumbent has been able to silence much of the opposition in the country. This began with the banning of the Muslim Brotherhood, the party of ex-President Morsi. Leading regime opponent Abdul Moneim Aboul Fotouh was detained in February 2018 over alleged ties to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. Sami Anan, a former military official, was detained by the military in January 2018 days after announcing his candidacy; he was accused of failing to secure permission from the army to run. Similarly, army colonel Ahmed Konsowa was sentenced to six years in prison after announcing plans to run in 2017. He stands accused of “stating political opinions contrary to the requirements of military order”. Khaled Ali also withdrew from the race. Ali is a human rights lawyer and stood in 2012. He is facing a three-month prison sentence for allegedly “offending public decency” during a protest. Other candidates, including the nephew of Anwar Sadat, have pulled out of the running, citing an atmosphere of fear surrounding the election.
The upcoming vote will not confirm the popularity of Sisi. Commentators are suggesting that the vote could see a turnout similar to that of the election of Hosni Mubarak in 2005 – 23 per cent. It is the turnout rate, rather than size of his win, which will really demonstrate Sisi’s popularity. Many, and especially Egyptians abroad, have decided to boycott the vote due to issues of transparency and Sisi’s authoritarianism. It is important that Sisi is seen to have ‘opposition’ in the vote to aid in internal and international prestige, hence the presence of Moussa.
This election is unlikely to bring about change in Egypt. Rather, the conservative, authoritarian nature of the Sisi regime is set to continue. Egyptians can expect further extrajudicial arrests of activists and opponents, enforced disappearances and killings, lengthy political detentions, and plenty of prison and death sentences. The most significant question for Egypt after Sisi wins the vote (as seems likely) is what comes next. Will Sisi amend the constitution to allow him to rule for another term or indefinitely? This tactic has been seen in Turkey, China, Rwanda, and a host of other countries in recent years. Alternatively, Egypt analysts will be looking closely to see who Sisi grooms as his replacement, this may include Moussa. For Egypt to truly become a democratic country, it will need to see a divorce between the military and politics. President Morsi, a conservative Islamist, was the only leader of Egypt since the overthrow of the monarchy in the 1950s to have not been from the military. Morsi, democratically elected, only stayed in power for just over a year before the aforementioned Sisi-led military coup d’etat. This is despite yielding to many of the military’s demands. The elections in 2018 show that the military is not looking to or willing to loosen its grip on power.
Political unrest may occur around the election, and in its aftermath. Travellers should endeavour to avoid all political rallies or demonstrations as there is the possibility that they will become violent. The Egyptian governmentâs laws against international non-governmental organisations and foreign journalists makes it likely that any travellers caught up in civil unrest will face harsh penalties. Travellers may also face restrictions on their behaviour or travel in the vicinity of voting stations. Overtly political statements in public, or on social media, may result in harassment or detention by the authorities.
Travellers should carry their ID at all times, police have the authority to conduct spot checks and failure to comply for any reason is likely to result in a hostile response. Police corruption remains an ongoing and persistent issue; due process or accountability in cases of unprofessional conduct are unlikely.
As previously noted, Egypt remains in a state of emergency due to terror attacks which have struck rural and urban areas over the past few years. Due to the extra security measures, travellers are advised to allow for more time if travelling to, thorough, or from Egypt. If greeted by security patrols or road blocks, travellers are advised to adhere to the instructions of security officers quickly, to avoid time spent stationary; checkpoints have been routinely targeted by militants in Egyptâs Sinai region.
If caught in a terror situation, travellers are advised to RUN â HIDE â TELL â FIGHT. RUN â If in a location where gunfire or explosions are heard, leave the area or building by any safe and available exit immediately. HIDE â If unable to run away, find suitable cover or barricade yourself in a room. Remember to silence your phone and turn vibrate off. TELL â Inform emergency services or alert someone who is able to do it for you. Once police arrive, comply with their instructions and do not make any sudden movements.Â FIGHT â As a last resort, if confronted with a gunman, it is recommended to fight back by using the element of surprise by shouting, screaming and running fast at the attacker. If sheltered with others, convince them to do the same and rush the attacker all at once. Ensure the person entering the shelter is the attacker and not law enforcement.
Solace Global would advise clients to employ enhanced security measures when visiting Egypt â airport meet and greet and a locally-vetted driver for the length of a visit will act to mitigate the majority of risks to travellers. Travellers should employ an increased level of security if travelling to more hostile locations in Egypt. All travellers are advised to make use of a travel tracking and intelligence system; this will permit an employer to execute effective duty of care and permit the traveller to remain up to date with developments to their security environment.
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