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Two Egypt groups to boycott presidential polls

Egypt's key anti-Mubarak group April 6 and Strong Egypt Party led by former presidential candidate shun 2014 poll
A huge billboard shows a portrait of Egypt's former army chief and leading presidential candidate Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Cairo (AFP)

An Egyptian political party and a youth group have both announced plans to boycott presidential polls slated for May 26-27.

"We will not participate in the upcoming election," Ahmed Emam, spokesman for the Strong Egypt Party, which is led by former presidential candidate Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh, told Anadolu Agency.

Emam asserted that "nothing has changed in Egypt's political scene" since the party decided in February not to field a presidential candidate.

Meanwhile, Egypt's April 6 youth movement also said it would boycott the upcoming election.

"The decision to boycott the vote has been taken after five months of consultations," April 6 coordinator Amr Ali told a press conference.

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Group spokesman Mohamed Kamal, for his part, said April 6 did not recognize the election's validity.

"Though we appreciate [presidential candidate] Hamdeen Sabahi, we object to the election law on which the electoral process is based," he said.

Egyptians will elect a new president on May 26-27 in the second phase of a transitional roadmap imposed by the army following last July's ouster of Mohamed Morsi – Egypt's first freely elected president – by the military.

Former army chief and presidential frontrunner Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, widely seen as the architect of Morsi's ouster last summer, and leftist politician Hamdeen Sabahi are both vying for highest office.

The April 6 movement was banned last month and its leader has been jailed. The secular-leaning group had backed the army's ouster of Morsi, but then turned on the new regime as it clamped down on dissent.

April 6 "does not recognise the electoral process", the group's coordinator said in a press conference.

The elections "are only legal procedures to enthrone Abdel Fattah al-Sisi", Ali told AFP, urging April 6 supporters not to vote and to refuse to recognise the electoral process.

"The political life has been going from bad to worse during the past four months. This regime does not accept political pluralism", Ali said.

Sisi, who retired from the army, has indicated he will have little patience for protests and unrest.

His supporters view him as a strong leader needed to restore stability in Egypt and kickstart its ailing economy.

At least 1,400 people, mostly Islamists, have been killed in street clashes since Morsi's overthrow and thousands have been imprisoned.

Almost 500 security personnel have also been killed in a wave of militant attacks.

Secular-leaning groups such as April 6 have increasingly protested against the government, accusing it of restricting freedom while giving police a free hand to crush dissent.

In December, April 6 founder Ahmed Maher was jailed for three years for violating a law banning all but police-sanctioned protests.

Meanwhile, an Egyptian court Wednesday sentenced 79 supporters of Morsi to jail terms of between five and 10 years over their involvement in deadly clashes, judicial sources said.

Since Morsi's ouster, his supporters have been staging weekly protests calling for his reinstatement.

Expat Egyptians to vote in presidential poll Thursday

Expatriate Egyptians will cast ballots Thursday in the country's presidential election.

For four days, from May 15 to May 18, eligible Egyptian voters abroad will cast ballots at 141 voting stations in 124 countries.

"The election commission has provided many facilities to allow Egyptians to vote overseas," Foreign Ministry spokesman Badr Abdel-Ati said in a statement.

Polling, however, will not be conducted in Libya, Syria, Somalia and the Central African Republic.

"Voting will not be held in these countries because of the difficult security conditions there," Assistant Foreign Minister for Consular Affairs Ali-Ashiri told a press conference in Cairo.

There are no exact figures regarding the number of eligible Egyptian voters living overseas.

Meanwhile, founder of Ghad Al-Thawra Party, Ayman Nour, who ran against Hosni Mubarak in the 2005 presidential elections is reported to be forming an opposition coalition with Mohamed Mahsoub, the vice president of the moderate Islamist Al-Wasat Party.

The coalition, named the 'National Democratic Council', is meant to include opponents of the current military-backed government who are not members of the Muslim Brotherhood. There are reportedly negotiations to have aboard Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei, former presidential candidate Khaled Ali and Strong Egypt Party founder Abdel Moneim Abul Fotouh, also a former presidential candidate.

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