Egypt Islamist party backs Sisi re-election bid

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

Egypt's ultra-conservative Islamist Al-Nour party has decided to support President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in his bid to be re-elected in March, the party said on Sunday.

President Sisi, who has been in power since 2014, appears set to run unopposed after all other presidential hopefuls announced they would not take part in the election on March 26-28.

Nominations for candidates remain open until Monday.

Al-Nour chief Yunes 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, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, 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 Mr Makhion.

Achieve stability

This unity "would achieve stability, and steer the country away from many dangers," he said.

Sisi was elected president a year after heading the 2013 military ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsy, who hailed from the Muslim Brotherhood, amid mass protests against his one-year rule.

At the time, Al-Nour supported Mr Sisi's move.

This support has allowed Al-Nour to survive a post-Morsy crackdown on Islamists while the Brotherhood was designated a terrorist group in 2013 and has seen thousands of its supporters detained.

Al-Nour was formed in 2011, months after an uprising overthrew Hosni Mubarak, an uprising Egypt's most prominent Salafi clerics viewed with caution.

Islamic law

It now has representation in a parliament elected in 2015, and viewed by critics as largely a pro-Sisi rubberstamp legislature.

The leaders of Egypt's Salafists — adherents of a puritanical school of Islam — have had a history of falling in line with strongmen.

Their opponents, including the Brotherhood, say they are mere opportunists.

But Salafi leaders argue their pragmatism helps avoid the turmoil and bloodshed of rebellion, and serves their endgame of a society which accepts Islamic law.

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