The presidential election continued to be the main topic of debate in the Egyptian press and media. Only one candidate is running against President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and has come under fire for being known as one of his supporters. Al-Wafd Party faced similar backlash upon news that its president would run, but decided not to proceed with his candidacy and continue to support Al-Sisi.
In Al-Watan newspaper, media professor at Cairo University Mahmoud Khalil described Al-Sisi’s rival candidate Moussa Mostafa Moussa as “very special,” appearing tense in the press conference which followed his last-minute application as candidate in the election. Khalil noted how Moussa failed to bring logical answers to journalists’ questions on how he was able to collect endorsement forms while his name was not on the lists citizens were choosing from in the first place, or who the MPs who backed him are, adding that he presented a shaky image of himself that did not demonstrate that he has turned from a supporter of Al-Sisi to a rival.
In Al-Wafd Party’s newspaper, an op-ed by Hassan Al-Rashidi indirectly criticised the stance of Moussa and his statements regarding not being “a puppet” in the election, writing that Al-Sisi will undeniably win and that he enjoys public support and popularity, after which he called on citizens to “cast their votes and freely express their opinions.”
This comes as most pro-state media are now working on mobilising people to go to the ballot boxes amid some calls for a boycott. The media also launched a campaign aimed at blaming political parties’ weakness and sparing the regime of any responsibility for the current electoral situation.
In Al-Masry Al-Youm, journalist Mai Azzam justified the boycott by writing that neither candidate represents her, adding that she took a similar stance in the 2012 election’s second round between Mohamed Morsi and Ahmed Shafiq. In her article, she slammed accusations against those who want to boycott the election of being “traitors” and the use of religious speech to support such an argument.
There were also two articles in the newspaper, by Gilane Gabr and Abbas Al-Tarabily, pointing fingers at political parties for lack of engagement in political life and arguing that Al-Sisi and the regime are not to blame for that.
Meanwhile, politician Amr Al-Shobaky praised Al-Wafd Party for refusing to have a candidate as a “décor” in the presidential race, especially since the party supports Al-Sisi. This stance, according to Al-Shobaky, will give the party credibility among the public, respecting its strategy, which includes supporting the state against terrorism but having its own regulations and views.
Likewise, editor-in-chief of Al-Shorouk newspaper, Emad El-Din Hussein, wrote that there is now a “golden opportunity” for the party to get involved in political life and expand its popularity on the ground, after the important decision it took regarding not having its head run in the election.