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In Egypt's presidential poll, wish for stability may trump hunger for rights

In Egypt's presidential poll, wish for stability may trump hunger for rights
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Egyptians will cast their ballots to decide on a new president this 26 and 27 May. It comes almost 11 months after the removal as head of state of Islamist Mohammed Mursi.

Army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, architect of that eviction, is expected to be confirmed as Mursi’s official successor.

Sissi’s supporters see him as the only man strong enough to hold in check Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood, to reimpose security in Egypt and to rekindle the economy.

The retired field marshal has not campaigned for the presidency, appearing only rarely in public. He declined a euronews invitation for an interview.

Sissi has one person running against him: leader of the left-wing Egyptian Popular Current movement Hamdeen Sabahi. He has been campaigning hard.

Claiming ideological lineage from pan-Arabist President Nasser, Sabahi placed third in the 2012 presidential running.

Sabahi was jailed as a dissident during the Mubarak and Sadat presidencies. Our Cairo correspondent asked what he hopes to accomplish that previous leaders have not.

Sabahi said: “I will work to achieve what the Egyptian people asked for in their revolutions. A successful state is great evidence of a successful revolution. I will seek social justice to restore the rights of the deprived majority, fair distribution of wealth and a democratic state able to protect freedoms and prevent discrimination in Egypt, and to open the door to the rule of law, equal opportunities and independence in national decision-making.”

Mohammed Shaikhibrahim, euronews: “Are you ready to deal with the Muslim Brotherhood, in the event you win the presidency?”

Sabahi: “The Muslim Brotherhood will not return as a party, because the new Constitution rules out religious parties. But that only regards the Muslim Brotherhood as an organisation: regarding individuals, I am very aware that there must not be discrimination among Egyptians for their political attitudes, providing that each expresses his opinion in a peaceful manner. We will deal with violence and everyone who spreads ideas of terror. We will not accept any violation of Egyptians’ freedoms and right to express their opinions peacefully.”

euronews: “Do you think that the Egyptian media and other state agencies are neutral in this election?”

Sabahi: “Not to speak of state television, I do not find equal opportunities in media held in private hands.”

euronews: “Why is that?”

Sabahi: “Because I think those who own the private media have their own interests. In this election, I know that the Egyptian state is effectively present; I see its influence every day. In spite of that, I accept the election equation under the influence of the state in favour of one candidate, but what I am asking for is: no fraud. I don’t think there will be fraud, and even if it happens, we will overcome it.”