President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt announced on Monday his candidature for a third term in office, ahead of the December elections he is widely expected to win.
Addressing a cheering crowd in Egypt’s new capital—the crowning jewel of a megaproject in the desert east of Cairo—al-Sisi, 68, said, “As I have responded to the people’s call before, I heed the call now and announce my intention to run and complete the dream in a new presidential term.”
Thousands of people celebrated the announcement on pre-built stages across the country, according to state-run television.
Earlier on Monday, protests in Cairo called for al-Sisi to declare his candidature.
“There is no one better for the future,” said Hassan Afifi, a teacher who escorted a bus full of his students to a rally in western Cairo.
Al-Sisi admonished Egyptians to head to the polls on December 10–12, “even if not to vote for me”.
Despite backlash on the president, whose security forces have been accused of harassing and detaining opponents, Al-Sisi applauded other candidates and hailed “a real beginning to a vibrant political life full of pluralism.”
Al-Sisi received 96 percent of the vote in 2014, a year after deposing Islamist President Mohamed Morsi.
After more important contenders were sidelined or arrested, he won with 97 percent of the vote against one of his own loyalists four years later.
This time, as Egyptians grow increasingly dissatisfied with the country’s unending economic woes, presidential candidates have emerged from the shadows of an opposition that has been destroyed by al-Sisi’s decade-long assault on dissent.
A few party leaders have stated that they have already received the required 20 nominations from parliament.
Another contender, former MP Ahmed al-Tantawi, has been campaigning to gain popular support.
To be qualified without legislative support, the 69-year-old will need to collect 25,000 nominations from Egyptians in at least 15 governorates by October 14th.