Sabahi Not to Bow Down Despite Pressures

CAIRO, May 28 (Aswat Masriya) Presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahi appeared in a YouTube video on Wednesday, the last day in Egypt’s presidential election, to say that he will not withdraw from the race.

Calls for Sabahi to withdraw began surfacing late on Tuesday after the Presidential Elections Commission (PEC) announced its decision to extend the presidential election for an extra day.

Sabahi’s contender, former army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, has also rejected the extension and filed an official complaint to the commission against it.

But the general perception is that Sisi is the one who stands to gain from the extra polling day. Sisi is expected to win easily, but a lot of attention has been focused on the size of voter turnout, as a credibility test to the whole election process.

Although no official numbers have been released yet, the general perception is that turnout on the first couple of days was less than what Sisi’s camp had hoped for.

In a released statement, the PEC said it decided to extend voting to give a chance to Egyptians residing outside of their hometowns to go back and vote, and said that hot weather during the day negatively affected voter turnout, whereas it expected a higher turnout in the evening.

However a member of Sabahi’s campaign said extensions are normally given when there are too many voters to handle at polling stations, not when there are too few. She told Aswat Masriya the PEC’s decision raised suspicion that the vote will be rigged on the third day to boost numbers in favor of Sisi.

Until late last night the Sabahi team debated whether or not to withdraw. Many of the younger supporters insisted that he should pull out, instead of giving legitimacy to a race which they considered has become unfair after the PEC’s decision.

However the final decision was made to stay in the race. “We will not withdraw, but we will also not accept the forgery, the forcing of something down Egyptians’ throats or the violations that we have reported and will continue to report,” Sabahi said in the YouTube video.

Sabahi told those calling on him to withdraw that he appreciates and respects their motives, but he has decided to stay in the race because he did not want to let down those who put their trust in him.

“It’s below us to let down every honorable voice that endorsed us and voted for us – especially in the face of the challenges and bias from the state, the media and capitalists.”

A hashtag that translates to “withdraw Hamdeen” has been trending on the social networking website Twitter since Tuesday’s extension decision.

“We hold the Presidential Elections Commission and security apparatuses responsible for what happened in the past two days and what may possibly happen on the extra day that they forced upon us.”

In an earlier statement, Sabahi had said that it is important for the country’s transition to democracy that he stays in the race as a stand against oppression and efforts to restore the old regime.

The leftist politician’s campaign announced earlier on Wednesday that it has withdrawn all of its representatives from polling stations across the country.

The campaign cited attacks, arrests and violations by the army and police among its reasons for the withdrawal from polls.

Despite reports of a low turnout, Egypt’s Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab told Aswat Masriya on Tuesday that the turnout exceeded 30 percent.

Local Development minister Adel Labib had attributed the reportedly low turnout to Tuesday’s high temperature and the inability of some Egyptians to vote outside of their hometowns. (Editing by Khaled Ezzelarab)

Source : Aswat Masriya