Cairo: More than 500 lawmakers in the Egyptian parliament have signed endorsements for President Abdul Fattah Al Sissi to run in this year’s elections, parliamentary officials said on Friday.
Some 516 members of the 596-strong legislature have signed forms nominating Al Sissi , Mohammad Nuseir, the assembly’s deputy secretary-general, said.
An electoral commission has scheduled the presidential polls for March 26-28.
Candidacy registration is slated for January 20-29.
Accordion to the Egyptian constitution, a presidential hopeful must secure endorsements of 20 members of parliament or 25,000 voters from at least 15 from the country’s 27 governorates to be an eligible candidate.
Potential contenders have this week complained that the “short” registration duration and campaigning time make it difficult for them to collect the required endorsements and compete in "fair" polls.
The parliament is dominated by backers of Al Sissi, who has been governing Egypt since 2014.
Since the timetable of the election process was announced on Monday, the local media has carried images of parliamentarians signing pro-Sissi endorsements.
“The deputies are convicted that the president [Al Sissi] has started the march of comprehensive reform and he has to complete it,” MP Mahmoud Al Sherif, who signed the endorsement, said in media remarks.
Al Sissi has not yet formally said he will seek a second and final term in office. But he is widely speculated to run in the elections and score a comfortable win.
Al Sissi, an ex-defence minister, swept the 2014 two-candidate elections that pitted him against leading leftist Hamdeen Sabahi.
Al Sissi is unlikely to face tough challengers in the upcoming polls.
Opposition lawyer Khalid Ali has announced a bid to run for president, but condemned what he called the "unfair" election timetable. Ali’s bid is at stake as he was sentenced in September to three months in prison on charges of public indecency. He has appealed the sentence, claiming the case is politically motivated. If he is finally convicted, he could be disqualified from the presidential race.
EX-MP, Mohammad Al Sadat, a nephew of late president Anwar Al Sadat, has hinted that he might vie in the upcoming polls.
The young Sadat, who was expelled from the parliament last month, said he had written to the head of the legislature to allow.
him to come to the assembly in order to collect the necessary endorsements to stand for president.
The Arab Egypt Party, which is not represented in the parliament, Thursday said it nominated its founder Samy Anan, an ex-chief of the army staff, to compete in the presidential elections. Anan, 69, has not yet accepted the nomination.
The opposition has 15 members in the parliament and it is not clear yet if any presidential hopeful will get the required backing from lawmakers.
The opposition bloc said they have not been approached by any potential contender for their backing.
“The grouping’s decision to support any candidate will be collectively taken,” opposition MP Haytham Al Hariri said.
Earlier this week, ex-prime minister Ahmad Shafiq renounced a plan to stand for president, more than a month after he announced the bid while he was staying in the United Arab Emirates.
Both Shafiq and Ali unsuccessfully contested Egypt’s 2012 presidential elections won by Mohammad Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood. In 2013, the army, then led by Al Sissi, toppled Mursi following enormous street protests against his rule.