Monarchists and sycophants: Egypt's presidential dreamers

CAIRO – Presidential dreamers trickled into the premises of the presidential election commission in eastern Cairo on Thursday, for the fourth day in a row.

Many tried to present themselves as serious candidates, posing for interviews with journalists and TV crews.

One wants to restore the Egyptian monarchy; another wants to win the election only to abdicate power to Egypt's former army chief Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, who resigned last week to announce his candidacy for top office; and a third sees himself as the "dark horse" candidate.

"I came to announce my bid for president because there are so many problems that need to be solved and I'm the only one who can solve them," Hossam Shaltot, a retired aviation engineer, told Anadolu Agency.

"Conditions in the country are going from bad to worse," he added. "Something has to be done."

Shaltot says he closely followed the performance of Mohamed Morsi – Egypt's first freely elected president who was unseated by the army last summer – and al-Sisi, who is widely seen as the driving force behind Morsi's ouster.

"Both of them are failures," Shaltot said. "Al-Sisi has been Egypt's de facto ruler for the past eight months, but he's done nothing to solve the country's problems."

If elected, Shaltot plans to restore Egypt's monarchy, which, he suggested, would allow it to join the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a six-country grouping of oil-rich Gulf states.

"This would mean Egyptian workers would have the chance to find work in the Gulf without requiring a visa," Shaltot said.

Egypt was a monarchy until 1952 when a group of young army officers – including the iconic Gamal Abdel-Nasser, who ruled Egypt until his death in 1970 – ousted the king and declared Egypt a republic.

Shaltot said the restoration of the monarchy and GCC membership would solve Egypt's acute fuel shortage by stimulating fuel aid from the Gulf.

He did not explain, however, the connection between the return of the monarchy and Egypt's proposed membership in the club of wealthy Gulf states.

So far, al-Sisi and Hamdeen Sabbahi – the latter of whom came third in 2012 polls won by the Muslim Brotherhood's Morsi – are the two most prominent figures to have announced their intention to contest the polls, slated for May 26/27.

-Dark horse-

Sabri Khalil, a 58-year-old petroleum engineer, is also taking his presidential candidacy seriously.

He has paid the 6000 Egyptian pounds (around $862) required to demonstrate would-be candidates' seriousness, as well as the 2500 pounds (around $359) for a medical exam all candidates are required to undergo.

"I'm this election's dark horse candidate," Khalil told AA. "There are already proposed solutions to Egypt's problems in government office drawers – but nobody's serious about doing anything."

Khalil, who works for a state-owned energy firm, criticized Egypt's new election law for obliging presidential hopefuls to obtain 25,000 citizens' signatures – in at least 15 of the country's 27 provinces – in support of their respective candidacies.

"This requirement means only moneyed candidates will be able to convince the public to register support for them," Khalil said.

"Nevertheless, I'll do my best to collect the needed signatures from ordinary people."

Behind Khalil stood Hassan al-Thaghr, a TV technician who wants to win the upcoming presidential race only to hand executive authority over to al-Sisi.

"The president's seat was made for al-Sisi," said al-Thaghr, 55.

"Other people can run, of course, but I advise them not to waste their time and money."

Similar grandstanding was seen in the run-up to Egypt's 2012 presidential polls, when numerous people – including a pop singer who said he could collect the needed signatures within 48 hours – signaled their desire to run for Egypt's top office.

One such presidential dreamer, interviewed on TV before the 2012 polls, said he was making the bid in order to help his father retain a job at a company from which he had been fired years earlier.

Copyright © 2014 Anadolu Agency