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Sisi to contest Egypt presidential poll virtually unopposed

Egypt's president to face only one candidate - al-Ghad party leader Mussa Mustapha Mussa, who has previously expressed his support for Sisi
A man walks past a Sisi election poster in the capital, Cairo (Reuters)

Abdel Fatah al-Sisi is to contest next month's presidential election virtually unopposed and facing only one other candidiate - the leader of a pro-Sisi party and has already expressed support for the incumbent to continue in his job.

The deadline for nominations passed on Monday with only Sisi and Mussa Mustapha Mussa, of Egypt's liberal al-Ghad party, confirmed as candidates.

Several other hopefuls had announced, but then quickly withdrew, their nominations under pressure amid threats of prosecution from the Egyptian state.

Mussa's candidacy was announced only hours before the midday nomination deadline - but given that he backs the president, his candidacy would appear to ensure that Sisi will not be the only name on the ballot on 26 March.

Early on Monday, Mussa's Facebook page carried a portrait of the president, with the statement "Long live Egypt: Abdel Fattah al-Sisi for president." 

That portrait was removed after Mussa's candidacy was announced.

The candidate list was finalised to just Sisi and Mussa after opponents to the incumbent faced alleged dirty tricks and legal threats to back out.

Last week, the former armed forces chief-of-staff, Sami Anan, was excluded from standing shortly after announcing his candidacy.

Anan was accused of illegally announcing his intention to contest the election before getting the military's approval. 

He was reportedly arrested, ending three months of campaigning, and his relatives say they have not heard from him since.

Ahmed Shafiq abandoned his bid earlier this month after being told he would be smeared with allegations of sexual misconduct and corruption, sources close to the former prime minister told Middle East Eye.

Sex tapes and corruption smears against Shafiq
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Last week, media reports said Sayed al-Badawi, leader of the old liberal al-Wafd party, was a potential candidate.

But he withdrew on Saturday and announced his backing for Sisi.

In the 2014 election, the official results showed that Sisi had secured 96.9 percent of the votes.

On Sunday, he and his government were accused by numerous public figures of quashing any opposition. They called on voters to boycott the election.

"We call on our great people to boycott these elections entirely, and to not recognise anything that results from it," figures from across the political spectrum said in a joint statement.

Signatories included Abdel Moneim Abol Foutoh, an Islamist who garnered almost a fifth of first-round votes in a 2012 presidential race; Hesham Genena, a prominent former anti-corruption watchdog chief; and Mohamed Anwar Sadat, who halted his own presidential bid this month out of concern for the safety of his campaigners.