Monday,20 November, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1367, (2 - 8 November 2017)
Monday,20 November, 2017
Issue 1367, (2 - 8 November 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Popularity check

A campaign in favour of re-electing President Al-Sisi announces it has collected more than three million signatures, reports Gamal Essam El-Din

 

Popularity check
Popularity check

“In Order to Build It”, a campaign set up to persuade President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi to run in next year’s election for another four-year term, announced on Sunday that it had collected more than three million signatures.

“The campaign has collected 3.773 million signatures since it began one month ago,” MP Karim Salem said at a press conference earlier this week.

Salem said the campaign had also collected the signatures of 220 MPs, a third of the total.

Al-Sisi has yet to announce he will be a candidate. On several occasions he has said he will run “only if it is the will of the people”.

The second stage of the campaign, says Salem, will begin when it has opened offices in all of Egypt’s 27 governorates.

“We have opened channels of communication with Egyptian expatriates in Arab and foreign countries and we plan to set up a website to help them register with the campaign and sign the petition.”

Starting next week the campaign also plans to send missions to Arab and foreign countries to meet Egyptians working there to rally their support, according to Mahmoud Hussein, the campaign’s foreign affairs coordinator.

The campaign does not face financial problems since it depends mostly on volunteers, claimed Ahmed Al-Khatib, the campaign official responsible for training. Some political parties also allow the campaign to use their offices and printing presses for free, he added.

The chairmen of two political parties — the head of the Free Egyptians Party Essam Khalil and chairman of the Future of Homeland Party Ashraf Rashad — announced this week that they have joined the campaign.

Al-Khatib said it was significant the campaign was able to collect so many signatures in such a short time despite the high inflation rates that followed the government’s economic reforms.

A poll conducted by the Egyptian Centre for Public Opinion Research (Baseera) reported early this year that Al-Sisi’s popularity and approval ratings had suffered a 14 per cent drop after two years and half in office, falling from 82 per cent to 68 per cent. Baseera attributed the drop to dramatic price increases and the government’s decision to approve a controversial maritime border demarcation deal which ceded the two Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia.

Although most citizens interviewed by the campaign complained of falling living standards they expressed hope that conditions will improve in the near future, said Al-Khatib.

“They said they back Al-Sisi’s re-election because they appreciate the president’s role in restoring stability and because national security is still endangered,” said Al-Khatib.

“Citizens believe President Al-Sisi is most qualified to lead the country and stand up to these dangers.”

The campaign, says Salem, responds to citizens’ questions on price increases and security threats and explains current economic conditions.

Political analysts are surprised no candidate has yet announced they will stand in next year’s elections. The only exception, Mohamed Anwar Al-Sadat, a former MP and the leader of the Reform and Development Party, has said he will put himself forward “only if the National Electoral Commission that will take charge of supervising the 2018 poll provides convincing guarantees that the election will be free and fair.”

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