Egypt’s President el-Sissi confirms he will run for a new term in upcoming presidential elections

CAIRO (AP) — Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi on Monday confirmed he will run for a new term in elections scheduled for December, entering the race as the clear favorite and as his government wrestles with rising inflation and mounting debt.

Egypt will hold a presidential election over three days on December 10-12, with a runoff on Jan. 8-10 if no candidate secures more than 50% of the vote.

El-Sissi confirmed his candidacy at the end of a three-day national conference called the “Story of Homeland” attended by the country’s leading politicians and broadcast by Egypt’s Extra News television channel, which has close ties to Egyptian security agencies.

“I have decided to nominate myself to you to complete the dream of a new presidential term,” el-Sissi said as the conference’s attendees cheered and clapped.

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A handful of politicians have already announced their bids to run for the country’s highest post, but none poses a serious challenge to el-Sissi, who has ruled the country since 2014 and has faced criticism from the West over his country’s human rights record. Among the challengers is Ahmed Altantawy, a former lawmaker and critic of the current government.

Extra News showed thousands of el-Sissi’s supporters gathered on the streets of Cairo on Monday evening, with many waving Egyptian flags. As the conference neared its end, several parliamentarians present stood up and called on el-Sissi to offer his candidacy.

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“I promise you, god willing, that it will be an extension of our common quest for the sake of Egypt and its people,” el-Sissi said.

El-Sissi, a former defense minister, led the military overthrow of an elected but divisive Islamist president in 2013 amid street protests against his one-year rule. Since then, authorities have launched a major crackdown on dissent. Thousands of government critics have been silenced or jailed, mainly Islamists but also many prominent secular activists, including many of those behind the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

He was first elected in 2014 and reelected in 2018 for a second four-year term. Constitutional amendments, passed in a referendum in 2019, added two years to his second term, and allowed him to run for a third, six-year term.

Egypt has been hit hard from years of austerity, and more recently, the fallout from the war in Ukraine, with its pound losing more than 50% of its value against the dollar in the last 18 months. The country is the world’s largest wheat importer and has traditionally imported most of its grain from eastern Europe.

Over the three-day conference el-Sissi touted the government’s plans and projects, while repeatedly demanding that Egyptians must make sacrifices as price hikes continue.

“Don’t you Egyptians dare say you would rather eat than build and progress,” el-Sissi said Sunday. “If the price of the nation’s progress and prosperity is to go hungry and thirsty, then let us not eat or drink.”

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