Egypt’s presidential election campaign begins

An election campaign banner erected by supporters of Egyptian President is seen in the capital Cairo, in this February 21, 2018 photo. (AFP)
Updated 25 February 2018
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Egypt’s presidential election campaign begins

CAIRO: Egypt’s presidential election campaign began on Saturday. The election, in which President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi is running against Mousa Mustafa Mousa, head of opposition party Al-Ghad, will take place on March 16, 17 and 18 for expatriate Egyptians in 124 countries and in Egypt on March 26, 27 and 28.
Mohammed Bahaa Abu Shoka, spokesman for the El-Sisi campaign, said that many political parties and campaigns have been established to support El-Sisi and that the majority of members of parliament have already joined the president’s “Support Egypt” campaign.
He claimed that the “Free Egyptians,” “Protectors of the Homeland,” “The Conference,” and the “Republican People” parties had joined the campaign in addition to pro-El-Sisi groups “The Citizen” and “For Egypt.”
“The campaign is open to the participation of other entities and people,” he added.
“The El-Sisi campaign aims to raise awareness among the Egyptian people in the face of calls to boycott the elections,” he explained, adding that the president’s platform included “achieving Egypt’s best interests, completing construction projects and creating a strong state capable of coping with challenges.”
No party has yet declared its support for Mousa.
“I am a candidate who is not supported by any party, person or entity, because everyone thinks that by standing by me, he stands in the face of El-Sisi,” Mousa said. “Time will not allow me to tour all provinces, but I will work on delivering my program to all people.”
Moussa has appeared as a guest on a number of television programs and has confirmed that if he wins the presidency, he will choose former Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab as head of his government. He has also indicated that the majority of the current government will keep their posts.
The head of Egypt’s famers syndicate, Hussein Abu Sadam, recently withdrew support for Mousa’s campaign.
Mousa is something of an unknown quantity in Egypt. Ahmed Al-Jundi, a government employee, said he had never heard Mousa’s name before, and had barely heard anything of the Al-Ghad “for more than five years.”
The election comes at a time of economic uncertainty for Egypt. The majority of Egyptians will likely be swayed by campaign promises of higher wages, inflation control, greater job opportunities, and affordable housing.
Unemployed university graduate Mohammad Moataz said he supports all those demands, explaining that he will vote for the candidate who can meet them immediately, regardless of whether that is El-Sisi or not.
Hadeer Ahmed, another student, agreed and added that security and the war on terror should also be given priority.
A low voter turnout is expected, given the widespread belief that El-Sisi will be re-elected by a huge majority.
In her meeting with members of the Egyptian community in Kuwait last week, Minister of Immigration and Egyptian Expatriates’ Affairs Nabila Makram warned that a lack of voter participation would achieve the “goals of the enemies of Egypt,” adding that Egyptians abroad should set an example for domestic voters.
Faiza Mahmoud, a housewife in Cairo, says she is keen to participate because she believes that “many of the rights that were taken from women in the past have returned in recent times.”
Karam Jabr, president of the National Press Association, stressed that the media needed a “commitment to neutrality and equal coverage between candidates,” and that journalists and publishers should abide by the standards set by the National Electoral Commission.
Journalists from across the globe are expected to cover the election, which is just the fourth multi-candidate presidential election in Egypt’s history.
“Every voter has the right to vote and must not give up his right,” Jabr added. “Elections under judicial supervision guarantee the highest degree of integrity and there is no justification for the voter not going to the election committees.”


Amnesty slams Iranian execution of two men charged of financial crimes

Updated 14 November 2018
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Amnesty slams Iranian execution of two men charged of financial crimes

LONDON: After two men convicted of financial crimes were executed in Iran, Amnesty International has strongly criticized the Iranian regime.
Vahid Mazloumin and Mohammad Esmail Ghasemi were put to death after a trial Amnesty has called “grossly unfair.”
Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Research and Advocacy Director, Philip Luther, said of the case: “With these abhorrent executions the Iranian authorities have flagrantly violated international law and once again displayed their shameless disregard for the right to life.
“Use of the death penalty is appalling under any circumstances but it is even more horrific given that these men were convicted after a grossly unfair show trial that was broadcast on state television. Under international human rights law, the death penalty is absolutely forbidden for non-lethal crimes, such as financial corruption.
“The shocking manner in which their trial was fast-tracked through Iran’s judicial system without allowing them the chance of a proper appeal is yet another example of the brazen disregard the Iranian authorities have for defendants’ basic due process rights.”
The duo were executed after being charged with “manipulating coin and hard currency markets through illegal and unauthorized deals” as well as smuggling. An unspecified number of other accomplices went to prison.
Iran detained Mazloumin, 58, in July for hoarding two tons of gold coins.
With Iran in the grip of a deepening economic crisis, authorities have carried out mass arrests of individuals whom they accuse of being “financially corrupt” and “saboteurs of the economy.”
According to Amnesty, the pair were convicted and sentenced to flogging, lengthy prison terms and eventually the death penalty after “grossly unfair summary trials.”
In August, Iran’s Supreme Leader approved a request by the Head of Judiciary to set up special courts to deal with crimes involving financial corruption. Since then, these courts have sentenced several people to death.
In a statement, Amnesty said the trials were unfair because defendants were denied access to lawyers of their own choosing, had no right to appeal against sentences of imprisonment during the process and were given only 10 days within which to appeal death sentences.