A leftist leader who ran in the 2012 presidential election on Sunday urged Egypt’s military to stay out of politics, criticising an expected leadership bid by the army chief.
Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who has emerged as the most popular political figure in Egypt after having ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, has made no secret of his intention to stand in a presidential election scheduled for spring, although he has yet to announce his candidacy officially.
“We call on (army leaders) to stay away from politics and to open the door for the democracy which the Egyptian people are hoping for,” leftist leader Khaled Ali said.
“I am not announcing my withdrawal (from the election), I am announcing my refusal to take part in this drama,” he told reporters.
The presidential election is seen as a milestone in a transitional roadmap outlined by the military-installed authorities for a return to democratic rule after Morsi’s ouster.
Ali, a renowned labour lawyer who ran against Morsi in 2012, also demanded an amendment of a presidential election law which makes all decisions by the electoral committee final and not subject to appeal.
“Today, we listen, obey and salute the military,” he said, criticising the lack of opposition to the law.
Egypt’s interim presidency said the decision to ban appeals was taken, in part, to speed up the electoral process amid a rocky transition marred by protests and militant attacks that have damaged its vital tourism industry and scared off investors.
Ali called for Sisi to leave the army for a year so “the media, the press and the people can treat you as a human being, (who takes) right and wrong actions, and can criticise you”.
His comments came just days after Ahmed Shafiq, the last premier under toppled president Hosni Mubarak, also criticised the military for its open backing of Sisi’s candidacy.
In January, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces announced its support for Sisi to stand for president, saying it was the people’s will that “must be heeded” by the army chief.
Leftist leader Hamdeen Sabbahi, who also ran against Morsi in 2012, is so far the only declared candidate for the next presidential election.