Cairo: Mousa Mustafa Mousa, who heads Egypt’s liberal Al Ghad party that backs President Abdul Fattah Al Sissi, said Monday before nominations closed that he will contest the presidential election.
The last-minute surprise candidacy comes with Al Sissi, who has ruled since 2014, set to romp home to victory and another four-year term in the March 26-28 polls.
Many members of Al Ghad who were once seen as opponents of ousted president Hosni Mubarak are now considered Al Sissi supporters.
“I am finishing up with some remaining matters and will then go to the National Election Authority to present my candidacy,” Mousa said.
He said he had gathered more than the necessary endorsements to stand.
Under Egyptian law, presidential hopefuls must collect endorsements from at least 20 lawmakers, or at least 25,000 registered voters, with a minimum of 1,000 signatures from each of at least 15 provinces.
Mousa would be the only other candidate to Al Sissi after all other possible challengers either ruled themselves out or were subjected to legal proceedings.
Last week, Al Sayyed Al Badawi, leader of the old liberal Al Wafd party, filed his nomination as a potential candidate.
But he withdrew on Saturday and announced his backing for Al Sissi.
In the 2014 election, the official results showed that Al Sissi had secured 96.9 per cent of the votes.
Egypt’s ultra-conservative Islamist Al Nour party is supporting Al Sissi in his bid to be re-elected in March, the party said on Sunday.
Al Nour chief Younis Makhion spoke at a news conference of his party’s policies on the economy, corruption, human rights and fighting terrorism, among others.
“The current president, Abdul Fattah Al Sissi, is the most capable to carry out these heavy responsibilities, and to bring cooperation between all the state’s institutions of the armed forces, police, and parliament,” said Makhion.
This unity “would achieve stability, and steer the country away from many dangers,” he said.