Egypt Kicks Off Presidential Campaigns (Part One)
Article by Sarah Sexton
This is the first of two articles about the upcoming elections in Egypt. Today, we explore the beginning of the official electoral campaign and student experiences following the fall of former president Hosni Mubarak’s regime.
While President Barack Obama and presidential hopeful Mitt Romney are gearing up for this summer’s election campaign, Egypt’s official campaign period began Monday, marking the beginning of a race that will determine the first president of the country’s new democracy, according Al Arabiya News.
“This is the first fair and free election in Egypt’s history,” said Sahar Mohamed Khamis, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Communication Department at University of Maryland and an expert on Arab and Middle Eastern media.
“It will be the first time the average Egyptian has a say and knows that their voice really counts,” Khamis said.
Only two days into the historic campaign, unidentified attackers assaulted anti-military protestors in Cairo, killing at least 11 people and prompting several presidential candidates to temporarily suspend their campaigns out of respect for those who died, according to the National Post (warning: this link contains graphic images from the protest).
The protestors were gathered near the defense ministry, calling for an end to the military rule that has served as a transitional government and has promised to abdicate power to the winner of the election by June, according to the National Post.
The Egyptian people began the turbulent process of establishing a democracy last year, when mass protests erupted in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and prompted Hosni Mubarak to resign as president on Feb. 11, 2011, ending 30 years of autocratic rule, according to The New York Times.
University of Maryland student Mohamed Hossam, who has lived in Cairo his entire life, vividly remembers the 18 days of protests leading up to Mubarak’s resignation and the four days he spent in Tahrir Square among the protestors.
“I was the happiest person on Earth,” Hossam said of the day Mubarak resigned. “I was more optimistic than ever. I believed that Egypt would become a real democracy where all Egyptians are free and equal.”
After over 14 months of turmoil in Egypt, plagued by frequent protests, economic hardship, increased crime and complaints against the ruling military council that took power after Mubarak’s resignation, the country has entered the campaigning stage of its first democratic presidential race, according to the Washington Post.
The campaign for the presidential election will last until May 21, and elections will take place on May 23 to May 24, Farouk Sultan, the head of the Higher Presidential Election Commission, said.
The second part of this piece will focus on the elections and the current front-runners. Look for this story online on Monday.
Sarah Sexton is a freshman journalism major. She is a freelance writer for The TerraByte. To contact Sexton or any other reporter, click here.