New developments in the Egyptian presidential race

Hend Tarek reports from Cairo.

If you ask any Egyptian, they will tell you that the next few months are going to be hardest times Egypt has ever faced. With the presidential elections looming, no one knows what to expect anymore. The dissolution of the constituent assembly, the elimination of Khayrat El Shater, Omar Suleiman and Hazem Salah Abu Ismail are just the most recent of the shocking revelations Egyptians keep learning.

The presidential elections are scheduled to be held on the 23rd and 24th of May. For some, the elections are the only hope left. On the other hand, levels of distrust towards politicians have become so high that some people do not even have that hope.

One of those people trying to find hope in the elections is fresh graduate and revolutionist Youmna Yasser. Yasser is a volunteer in presidential candidate Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh’s campaign.

Even though he was until recently a member of the MB, Yasser trusts Aboul Fotouh. She had her doubts about whether he would put the interests of the MB before the interests of the country; but her doubts perished when the MB nominated Khayrat El Shater for presidency.

“What we should be doing is boycotting the elections.” Yasser said. But, she explained, that since very few people will actually do that, it won’t make a difference. Yasser explains that boycotting the elections means that her vote will be forged, this is why she refuses to do it.

Yasser wants people to vote for who they want. “They don’t have to vote for Aboul Fotouh but we have to talk to people and tell them not to sell their votes for food or money because very few people understand that. This is the only way to guarantee that votes won’t be forged.”

The constituent assembly, the body elected by the People’s Assembly and the Shura Council, has been dissolved. This means that presidential candidates and electorates alike still don’t know what form of government the country will have. Presidential candidates are expected to create electoral programs without this information.

When I asked Youmna Yasser how she felt about this, she said that “The rules of the game are unfair and the election process is a mere sham; but, we must play by their rules because you simply don’t have the power to change any of this. This is our destiny and we have to accept it.”

Yara El-Narsh, a student in Cairo University and volunteer with Hamdeen Sabahi feels the same way about the way the elections were planned by SCAF. She said that “SCAF is playing a dirty game. It is obvious that they support certain candidates.”

El-Narsh is hopeful and optimistic and despite of everything that’s happened, she expects a candidate who is with the revolution to win. She does not believe in boycotting the elections. For her boycotting means, losing your voice and giving it to someone who does not deserve it”

Some people are speculating that the elections will be forged. El Narsh does not expect that. She suspects that some candidates will manipulate people to vote for them, similar to what happened during the voting on the referendum in March 2011 and the People’s Assembly elections.

On the other hand, Mohammed Tarek Galal, a senior student in the Faculty of Law, Cairo University does not feel any real change. Galal is one of the students who took part in the sit-in in Cairo University held in protest of the current charter, the 1979 charter which is seen by most students as a way for state security to limit student unions’ freedoms.

Galal hasn’t made up his mind on whether he would vote or not. He doesn’t support any of the presidential candidates, even though he leans towards Hamdeen Sabahi.

Hend Tarek is senior student studying Mass Communication at Cairo University. She is an aspiring journalist who strongly believes that journalists have a responsibility towards improving society and informing people of the truth. She writes mostly about Egypt, the Arab World, and Palestine.  

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