Egyptian leftist Hamdeen Sabbahi on Saturday submitted the documents required to run in next month’s presidential election, in which he is seen as the main rival to former army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
Sisi, who is riding a wave of popularity after ousting Islamist president Mohamed Morsi last July amid massive street protests, is widely expected to win the May 26-27 election.
“With God’s will, we will wage a great and victorious battle,” Sabbahi, told his supporters after submitting his candidacy to the electoral commission.
Sabbahi has surpassed the 25,000 signatures from citizen supporters required to officially register his candidacy, gathering 31,100 signatures from 17 provinces, according to his campaign team.
His registration comes a day before the expected end of the registration period set by the electoral commission.
Sabbahi was accompanied by scores of supporters, who cheered their candidate and chanted: “Sabbahi is the symbol of freedom!”
They carried boxes containing the signed forms to be handed over to the electoral committee.
A longtime opposition figure jailed during the rule of strongman Hosni Mubarak and his predecessor Anwar Sadat, Sabbahi came in third in Egypt’s first free presidential election in 2012, a year after Mubarak was toppled by an Arab Spring-inspired uprising.
Sisi officially submitted his bid for presidency on Monday, with his lawyer handing over the required documents. His campaign team said they submitted around 200,000 signatures to the electoral committee.
Critics of Sisi fear his election would mark a return to the autocratic rule of the Mubarak era, citing the military-installed authorities’ crackdown on Morsi’s supporters and the jailing of prominent activists from the 2011 uprising for organising unauthorised protests.
Sisi has dismissed such fears, and his supporters view him as a strong leader who can stabilise the economically-battered country after three years of turmoil.
The electoral commission is to announce the final field of candidates on May 2, and official campaigning starts a day later.