Egypt’s Revolutionary Youth Coalition (RYC) announced late Monday that it will endorse candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi for president and called for uniting efforts against “the remnants of the ousted regime” of Hosni Mubarak, an Egyptian daily reported.
Nasser Abdul Hamid, an RYC member, was quoted by Egypt’s Independent as saying that the coalition does not think that the presidential election would be a magic key to solving Egypt’s problems.
However, he added that Egypt is on the verge of new transitional period beginning in July and the RYC will back the winning president if he is good, even if he is not the candidate that it is endorsing.
“We support a civilian state and we support the candidate of the revolution, Sabbahi, who is one of us,” activist Israa Abdel Fattah said. “We will not allow a candidate of the ousted regime to be a president,” she was quoted by al-Ahram as saying in reference to former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq, who is running in the presidential race.
Prominent media figure Hamdi Qandil also announced his support for Sabbahi, saying that the support of RYC is important because “they can create the future the same way they created the revolution before.”
Several other revolutionary figures such as movie director Khaled Youssef along with Mansour Hassan, the head of the military council’s Advisory Council, novelist Bahaa Taher, Mamdouh Hamza, George Ishaq, and author Alaa al-Aswany have all announced their support for Sabbahi.
Any conversation about Sabbahi usually begins with reference to his audacious face-to-face dress-down of then-President Anwar al-Sadat in 1977, when the latter decided to conduct a series of town hall meetings at universities to prove his openness to dialogue. Then a student of mass communications and president of the student union at Cairo University, Sabbahi criticized Sadat over his departure from Nasserism (in reference to the legacy of former president Gamal Abdul Nasser) and shift towards neo-liberalism, as well as the seemingly decreasing support for the Palestinian cause.
Since 1977, Sabbahi has been an omnipresent opposition figure in Egyptian politics. In 1979, he was imprisoned along with other prominent leftist activists for being one of the instigators of the bread riots that saw widespread demonstrations against inflated prices of staple goods. It was the first of a series of detentions, the last of which was in 2003, when Sabbahi was arrested for protesting Egypt’s support of the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
Through his membership of the Arab Democratic Nasserist Party, Sabbahi stayed active in politics. He emerged as a leader within the Nasserist current after leaving the party in 1996 — claiming it has become obsolete — and forming the Karama party on similar ideological grounds.
Until the Jan. 25 revolution, Karama was not recognized as an official political party for espousing what the Mubarak regime considered a radical ideology. Meanwhile, Sabbahi ran for and was seated in parliament as an independent from 2000 to 2010.
In 2005, he joined a group of activists and intellectuals to form the Kefaya movement which led a wave of protests against the rule of Hosni Mubarak and the grooming of his son, Gamal, to take over the presidency.
Part of the Sabbahi’s campaign platform involves the immediate implementation of social welfare.
(Writing by Abeer Tayel)