Egyptian presidential candidate Moussa Mustafa Moussa Image Credit: AP

A last-minute bid by Mousa Mustafa to run in Egypt’s presidential election has surprised even members of his Al Ghad Party.

Some officials in the centrist party have resigned in protest. Their argument is that Al Ghad and Moussa, who is the party head, have already announced their backing of President Abdul Fattah Al Sissi’s bid to seek a second term in office.

Mustafa submitted his papers about an hour before the candidacy deadline ended, becoming the sole challenger to Al Sissi. Mustafa’s controversial bid was made after a string of other presidential hopefuls pulled out or were barred from running.

The architect-turned-politician does not deny his support for Al Sissi. Mustafa has defended his decision to stand for president, saying it is aimed at boosting democracy in Egypt and salvaging the country’s international image after all potential challengers to Al Sissi withdrew.

Detractors have dismissed Mustafa as a little-known politician, calling him an “extra” in polls, which Al Sissi is widely expected to win.

Mustafa, 65, asserts he is serious about his bid for presidency and has a chance. “I have entered elections to win. I have more than 45,000 members at Al Ghad, in addition to the Union of Arab Tribes,” he said in a recent television interview.

Mustafa heads the Union of Arab Tribes, a grouping of Egyptian clans, which he says comprises tens of thousands of people and followers.

He is running on a platform based on job creation and increasing incomes of people he says have been affected by economic reforms.

Mustafa was born in April 1952. His father was a senior member of Al Wafd, Egypt’s oldest liberal party.

In 2005, Mustafa cofounded Al Ghad with political dissident Ayman Nour. Later, both were locked in a bitter row over the party’s stewardship. In 2011, a court ruled in favour of Mustafa and declared him the party’s leader.

Mustafa is married with three children.