Middle East

Egypt election: Sabahi sole challenger to Sisi

Hamdeen Sabahi (19 April 2014)
Image caption Mr Sabahi faces an uphill struggle against the popular Abdul Fattah al-Sisi in May's election

Egyptian left-winger Hamdeen Sabahi will be the only challenger to ex-army chief Abdul Fattah al-Sisi in the forthcoming presidential election.

Mr Sabahi, who came third in a 2012 poll, submitted his candidacy on Sunday, the final day of registration.

Analysts say Mr Sisi is the favourite to win the presidency. The first round of voting is on 26 and 27 May.

The former field marshal led the overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi last July after mass protests.

Mr Sabahi, a long-time opposition activist, was jailed over a dozen times under previous Egyptian governments.

His secular Popular Current party was part of an anti-Morsi alliance called the National Salvation Front.

Mr Sabahi gathered 31,100 signatures backing his bid, his campaign team said.

The required number for registration is 25,000. Reports say Mr Sisi gathered 200,000 signatures.

Mr Sisi resigned from his post as army chief in March because Egyptian law does not allow soldiers to stand for the presidency.

Image caption Cairo campaign poster for Mr Sisi. He overthrew Islamist President Mohammed Morsi last July

If Mr Sisi does become president, he will be the latest in a line of Egyptian rulers drawn from the military, going back to the 1950s - a line only briefly broken during President Morsi's year in office.

Human rights groups say the military-backed authorities have displayed increasing hostility to independent media and to political opponents.

Since Mr Morsi's overthrow more than 1,000 people have been killed and thousands of members of Mr Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood been detained by the interim authorities, who have designated the Islamist movement a terrorist group.