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Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Strategic Alliances for a Secure, Connected, and Prosperous Region

Egyptians Go to the Polls to Vote for Their President

Filed under: Egypt, Operation Swords of Iron

Egyptians Go to the Polls to Vote for Their President
President El-Sisi (left) submitted his election candidacy papers, along with three other aspiring candidates: Farid Zahran, head of the opposition Social Democratic Party; Abdel-Sanad Yamama, leader of Egypt’s oldest liberal party, the Wafd; and Hazem Omar, head of the People’s Republican Party. (Ahram)

Egyptians abroad began voting on Friday, December 1, 2023, in the first step of the process of casting votes in the 2024 presidential elections, at a time when the country is coping with the blast wave of the Israeli-Hamas war on the Gaza Strip. No surprise is expected: Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, the present president will be elected for a third six-year term. In 2019, Sisi secured a constitutional change that allowed him to run for a third mandate. To imitate a democratic process, a second round of elections might end – as expected – with the victory of El-Sisi.

Voting by Egyptians abroad began worldwide. Egyptians abroad vote by personally visiting the Egyptian embassies or consulates on the days specified for voting. Egyptians abroad will cast their votes over three days, while Egyptians inside the country will vote on December 10, 11, and 12. The result will be announced on December 18 if the race is decided in the first round. In the event of a rerun of the elections, elections will be held for Egyptians abroad on January 5, 6, and 7, 2024. Elections for Egyptians inside Egypt will be held on January 8, 9, and 10, and the results will be announced on January 16.

The current president, Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, is competing with whomever is left of the potential candidates: the head of the Egyptian Democratic Party, Farid Zahran, the leader of the Wafd Party, Abdel-Sanad Yamama, and the head of the Republican People’s Party, Hazem Omar.

Under the cover of a democratic process, the Egyptian regime puts insurmountable hurdles in front of potential candidates: the candidate had to be endorsed by at least 20 members of the House of Representatives, or supported by no less than 25,000 voting citizens in at least 15 governorates and a minimum of 1,000 supporters from each governorate. Moreover, whoever served in the Egyptian army and wanted to present himself as a candidate had to secure beforehand permission granted by the armed forces. This year, the specific clause concerned the former Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Mahmoud Higazy, and barred him from presenting his candidacy. An Egyptian publicist, Salim Azouz, wrote: “I do not see that he can run for the presidency, first because he will not be able to obtain the approval of the Military Council, and secondly, if he decides to do so, what happened to Sami Anan and Ahmed Shafik will happen to him.” Gen. Shafik was pressured to withdraw from a race in 2018, and Gen. Sami Anan was arrested before the elections for failing to obtain the military’s approval to run.

Three candidates have received the recommendation of members of Parliament, including Hazem Omar, head of the Republican People’s Party and a member of the Senate, who received 44 recommendations from members of the House of Representatives, and Farid Zahran, head of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, who received 20 recommendations from members of the House of Representatives. Abdul-Sanad Yamamah, leader of the Wafd Party, also received 20 submissions from members of the House of Representatives. The three obtained the percentages stipulated in the law.

The presidential campaign was characterized by heated passions from those who saw themselves being blocked/arrested by the regime and prevented from presenting their candidacy. One of the significant potential candidates was Ahmad Tantawi, former head of the Karama Party, whose supporters were prevented, based on false proof, from securing the needed votes necessary to qualify a candidate for the presidency.

Ahmed Tantawi claimed that “his mobile phone was being spied on and hacked.” Tantawi sent his mobile phone to a laboratory in Canada affiliated with the University of Toronto, requesting that it be examined. When the Canadians confirmed the validity of the Egyptian oppositionists’ beliefs, major newspapers reported that the espionage was carried out using the “Pegasus” cyber program produced by the Israeli company NSO.

Together with Tantawi, two other candidates have been barred from participating in the elections: Farid Zahran, head of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, and Gamila Ismail, head of the Constitution Party.

Finally, the presidential elections will have no impact on Egypt because they will represent “more of the same,” the perfect expression of a military society shaped by its army since the revolution of July 1952. El-Sisi will be re-elected, and nothing will change. The Egyptian military will still control the state.

Gaza Strip. Additionally, Palestinians have reported that unidentified gunmen have attacked trucks carrying humanitarian and medical aid that entered the Gaza Strip through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt. They said that the gunmen stole the aid.

Watch the video of the looting of an UNRWA warehouse.

In other scenes of anarchy, Palestinians reportedly stormed warehouses belonging to the United Nations Relief and Work Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). They discovered ample supplies of rice, lentils, flour, and oil.