Egypt’s ‘Democracy’: Only Rival Presidential Candidate Has Sisi as His Cover Photo

Published January 30th, 2018 - 03:07 GMT
Screenshots of the cover photo apparently from Mousa Mostafa Mousa’s Facebook page have been circulated widely by Egyptians satirizing the lack of real choice in the upcoming presidential elections (Twitter)
Screenshots of the cover photo apparently from Mousa Mostafa Mousa’s Facebook page have been circulated widely by Egyptians satirizing the lack of real choice in the upcoming presidential elections (Twitter)

The only candidate standing against the Egyptian president in upcoming elections is so flimsy he used an image of the incumbent as his Facebook cover photo.

Just when it looked like Abdel Fattah el-Sisi would be in a one-horse race for the presidency, Mousa Mostafa Mousa submitted his nomination only hours before the deadline on Sunday, apparently offering an alternative for voters.

But Egyptians soon pointed out a flaw, noting that Mousa is so much of a Sisi supporter, he has apparently given him pride-of-place on his social media profile.

It is not clear if Mousa removed the material promoting the current president’s campaign from his profile following his announcement - the page no longer seems to be publicly accessible. Egyptians were still reporting it on Monday evening, however.

The Ghad party, which Mousa leads, is staunchly pro-Sisi and had been gathering signatures in support of the president until Jan. 20. In fact, he had last year established the "supporters of President el-Sisi's nomination for a second term” campaign, expressing hope that Sisi would win by more than "80 or 90 per cent, so he can achieve what he has started."

Screenshots of a cover photo apparently from a Facebook page belonging to Mousa have been circulated widely by Egyptians satirizing the lack of real choice in the March vote.

Text superimposed on the picture reads “we support you as president of Egypt.” Another post, from Jan. 23, adds “greetings Egypt, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi for the presidency of the Republic,” written over an image of Sisi gazing into the distance.

“Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Mousa Mostafa Mousa are candidates for the presidency of the Republic, and the door has been closed to candidates,” wrote Sara Samir on Facebook.

“But first, see the account of the nominee Mousa Mostafa Mousa - is he a candidate or a supporter of the other candidate?”

The presidential candidate, Mousa Mostafa Mousa, is the founder of the "supporters" campaign to nominate Sisi for a second term

In a post that was retweeted over 400 times, Egyptian photojournalist Mohamed El Raai said: “Guys, can someone please tell Mousa Mostafa Mousa to get rid of the picture of Sisi he has put as his cover photo up to the present moment on his official account.”

“Because our friends the foreign journalists are going onto [the page] and they cannot comprehend it.”

Television presenter Hossam Horbagy took the cover photo as evidence that “this is a farce of an election in the true sense of the word.” Meanwhile, reporter Hossam Bahgat joked in response to the cover photo that it “will be a fierce competition.”

Another tweet quipped that "[Mousa] knows he's an 'extra,' and we know he's an 'extra,' and he knows we know he's an 'extra,' and knows that we know he knows he's an 'extra.'"

A series of opposition candidates who put themselves forward for the presidency over recent months withdrew one-by-one from the race, all arrested or pressured by alleged government intimidation.

The situation became such that commentators were questioning why Sisi was not at least attempting to give the election a veneer of respect for democracy. This last-minute nomination has been seen as a bid to do so, after all.

For many, however, that begs the question as to why the regime has chosen a candidate who is so publicly pro-Sisi, making his role as a regime puppet transparent.

Egyptian PhD student Karim El Taki suggested the best explanation was that “political actors are not necessarily rational. Nor are they necessarily competent and smart.”

“The way last-minute-candidates are surfacing,” he said. “Shows how bad the regime’s democratic theatrics are, so bad that even regime media are voicing opposition to such a poorly produced show election.” 

Mousa has insisted, however, that “we are not puppets in this race.” That seems unlikely to hold with Egyptians and international observers alike, with a coalition of opposition figures calling on Monday for a boycott of the elections.

The government had prevented “any fair competition in the upcoming elections," their statement said.


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