Today and tomorrow (May 26-27), the Egyptian presidential “elections” take place. Through this photo essay, Annemarie van Geel gives a visual impression of the pre-election run-up in Cairo.
Cover photo: V-for-Vendetta masques (symbol of resistance) for sale on Tahrir square, under the watchful eye of Sisi.
The only credible candidate is former Commander-in-Chief of the Egyptian armed forces Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi. Sisi announced his candidacy in March of this year, changing his military uniform for civilian clothes for the first time in 40 years.
Running against Sisi is Hamdeen Sabahi. He is a controversial socialist/Nasserist politician. Some say he is a serious contender (he came 3rd in the 2012 presidential elections with 21% of the vote), others say him running only serves to legitimise Sisi getting “elected” next week.
Sisi, when still commander-in-chief of the army, played a leading role in ousting then-president Mohamed Morsi in June 2013. Sisi is popular among those in Egypt whose main desire is stability after years of insecurity. They view Sisi as someone who can protect Egypt’s dignity, improve the country’s dire economic situation, and is an observant Muslim.
However, opposition against Sisi and the military rule remains from various sides in society, such as those who remain sided with the aims of the January 25 revolution, and the Muslim Brotherhood (MB). While the former see Sisi as a threat to the soul of the revolution, the MB see in Sisi the mastermind of a coup against the elected MB president Mohamed Morsi and the leader of a crackdown against MB members, of which leaders and members have been imprisoned, many facing death sentences. The current regime labels the MB and its members “terrorists”. The MB have decided to boycott the vote.
Not only the MB is targeted. For example, the “April 6 Youth Movement”, one of the main groups that called for protests before the 25 January 2011 revolution, was recently banned by a Cairo Court for “espionage” and “activities that distort Egypt’s image.”
Sisi is widely expected to capitalise on the military rule’s politics of fear and gain a landslide victory – just as in the polls abroad, which have already closed.
For a video caricature of what some believe Sisi’s presidency will look like, watch this YouTube clip (with English subtitles).
Please click here for the complete photo essay.