The Civil Democratic Movement (CDM), an alliance of 12 Egyptian opposition parties, has alleged that the government is preventing potential candidates from obtaining the required endorsements to run in the presidential election in December. The CDM held a press conference on Wednesday, where they presented witnesses and evidence of various forms of intimidation, violence, and bribery that they said were aimed at blocking citizens from supporting anyone other than President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who is seeking a third term in office.
According to Egypt’s election system, candidates need to secure either 20 endorsements from parliament members or 25,000 endorsements from citizens across 15 governorates. The CDM said that the latter option was almost impossible for the opposition, as they faced constant harassment and obstruction from pro-government forces at the notary offices where the endorsements are registered. They also claimed that hundreds of people were lured with food boxes and money to endorse el-Sisi.
The CDM’s main candidate, former MP Ahmed Tantawy, has only received a few dozen endorsements so far, despite having a large popular support base. His campaign said that even his own family members were unable to endorse him due to technical glitches and closures at the notary offices. Tantawy is the most prominent challenger to el-Sisi, who has been in power since 2013 after leading a coup against the Muslim Brotherhood government.
The CDM called on the National Election Authority (NEA) to investigate the violations and ensure a fair and transparent electoral process. The NEA has denied any wrongdoing and said it has extended the working hours of the notary offices to facilitate the endorsement process. The deadline for submitting the endorsements is October 14.
The CDM said it will decide whether to continue or boycott the election after the end of the nomination period. So far, only four politicians, including el-Sisi, have collected enough endorsements to run in the election. The CDM and other rights groups have expressed doubts over the credibility and freedom of the election, given el-Sisi’s crackdown on dissent and civil society in Egypt.