CAIRO – A prominent Egyptian opposition leader said on Wednesday that he will not run in March’s presidential election, leaving incumbent Abdel Fattah al-Sisi unopposed.
“Today I announce my decision that I will not run this electoral race and I will not submit the papers for my nomination,” Khalid Ali, standard-bearer of Egypt’s weak and demoralized left.
The human rights attorney said he made the decision after consulting with his campaign team and with all the groups that have supported him, including the April 6th Movement, which played a leading role in the 2011 uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak.
Ali told a news conference in Cairo that while he and his advisers initially saw the presidential contest as a possible way out of Egypt’s current situation, “the small opening that we tried to use has been closed.”
“It was a really difficult and bitter choice and it was not easy to make it in a matter of a few hours,” he said.
Ali’s withdrawal comes a day after the arrest of another candidate for the presidency, former army chief of staff Sami Anan, who was seen as the most formidable challenger to Al-Sisi.
Regarding Anan’s aborted candidacy, Ali called the bid “an unfortunate attempt to reproduce the past” and a reflection of “struggles within the regime” in which his team does not want to take part.
At the same time, he said that Tuesday’s events and other incidents that have affected his own campaign “poisoned the political process.”
With Al-Sisi facing no opposition, the March presidential election will be no more than a “referendum,” Anan said.