Egypt: Intelligence director reportedly discusses Sisi’s election rivals with opposition

Egypt’s spy chief has reportely met with Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s internal opposition to ‘select presidential election rivals’ in the coming elections.

The director of Egypt’s intelligence agency has recently met with opposition politicians to discuss the selection of candidates to compete with General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in the elections scheduled for next year, according to Arabi21.

According to sources familiar with the meeting, Abbas Kamel, the head of Egypt’s General Intelligence Agency and former head of Sisi’s office, held a meeting with members of the Civil Democratic Movement last week to nominate three civilians to run for the elections, which will be held after the end of Sisi’s term in June 2024.

“The circle close to Sisi, led by Kamel, began the journey of searching for competitors for Sisi in the upcoming elections, in light of Western reservations about the human rights situation in the country and pressures exerted by some Western and Gulf countries on the Sisi regime to open the public sphere and allow civil figures to run for the presidency, rather than to repeat what happened in 2018,” the online newspaper quoted sources as saying.

“Kamel promised the representatives of the Civil Democratic Movement that if the three names are agreed upon, they will be assisted in collecting the necessary powers of attorney for candidacy, and will be allowed to appear in intelligence-affiliated media,” the source said.

Article 2 of Resolution 22 of 2014, approving the law organising presidential elections, issued by former interim President Adly Mansour, stipulates that: “In order to accept the candidacy for the presidency of the republic, the candidate must be endorsed by at least 20 members of the House of Representatives, or supported by at least 25,000 citizens who have the right to vote in at least 15 governorates, with a minimum of 1,000 supporters from each of them. In all cases, it is not permissible to recommend or support more than one candidate.”

The process of collecting votes stipulated in the Elections Law as a condition for candidacy is considered almost impossible, in light of the tight security grip imposed by the Sisi regime on all state institutions, which include the Ministry of Justice that documents the powers of attorney through its notary offices. Therefore, any candidate from outside the system attempting to collect these powers of attorney will face many difficulties and security restrictions.

Sisi was re-elected in 2018 after garnering 97 percent of the vote in a race in which he ran virtually unchallenged after the other serious candidates were arrested or pulled out. His only opponent, Moussa Mostafa Moussa, who was one of his supporters, won 2.92 percent of the vote.

The latest report comes as one of Sisi’s most outspoken critics, Ahmed Tantawy, has announced that he would return to Egypt in May to “carry out his role in introducing a civilian alternative” to Sisi.

Tantawy, a former left-wing MP and senior member of Al-Karama party, left Egypt last year and has reportedly been based in Beirut after security agencies exercised pressure on him to refrain from criticising the Sisi government.