With just one candidate for March election, Egypt continues descent into authoritarianism

With just one candidate for March election, Egypt continues descent into authoritarianism

Today is the deadline for presidential candidates to register to challenge incumbent Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. It comes amid increased international

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Photo: Charles Platiau/AFP/Getty

Today is the deadline for presidential candidates to register to challenge incumbent Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. It comes amid increased international concern over the legitimacy of the upcoming elections.

Presidential hopeful Khaled Ali, a human rights lawyer, withdrew his campaign citing threats to his liberty after the arrest of former military chief of staff Sami Annan—who was regarded a serious challenger to Mr Sisi—on electoral fraud charges. Most other contenders have been detained on questionable charges.

Barring any unexpected registrations today, Egypt’s election will proceed with just one candidate—the current president. Such a one horse race highlights the increasingly authoritarian nature of Egyptian politics since the 2011 revolution. The election will now largely symbolise the power struggle between Egypt’s armed forces and its security services and further consolidate power for Sisi. However, even the cosmetic appearance of an election has failed to hide Sisi’s continued need to appease the powerful military and security forces, something his predecessors eventually failed to do.

Expect no further opposition to challenge Sisi’s re-election chances. However, there is the possibility of further internal power struggles and contenders rising from within Egypt’s armed forces. With a tumultuous past few years consolidating power, expect Sisi to spare no effort to ensure his re-election.

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