Egyptian leftwinger becomes first to officially enter presidential race
The veteran leftwinger Hamdeen Sabbahi has become the first candidate to officially enter the race to succeed Mohamed Morsi as Egyptian president, ensuring that the army chief will not be elected unopposed.
Sisi, who after toppling Morsi last July, is still expected to win by a landslide. But the involvement of Sabbahi, who finished third in Egypt's 2012 presidential elections, means there will be a credible contest, despite other potential candidates opting out of the race in deference to Sisi.
Sabbahi's platform is likely to tread on Sisi's patch. Both men use nationalism to drum up support, and both have been positioned by their backers as successors to Egypt's widely respected 60s autocrat, Gamal Abdel Nasser. In his first campaign speech, Sabbahi also claimed to carry the flame for Egypt's revolution – a mantra that implicitly positions Sisi as the establishment figure.
Sabbahi's declaration has already split the leadership of Tamarod, the high-profile protest movement that led calls for Mohamed Morsi's overthrow last summer. Two of its co-founders have declared their support for Sabbahi, while its leader has stayed loyal to Sisi.
It is unclear how much of a campaign Sabbahi will be allowed to make. His party claimed two men who displayed posters of Sabbahi in their cars were arrested in a northern city this week.
Sisi has not yet formally announced his own candidacy, but was last week.
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