(REUTERS – 23RD APRIL) The race for the Egyptian presidency has been redefined by the disqualification of Hosni Mubarak’s spy chief and prominent Islamists, including a Muslim Brotherhood candidate and a popular Salafi cleric.
The Brotherhood’s new presidential candidate Mohamed Mursi promised on Saturday (April 21) to govern in coalition and to steady Egypt after more than a year of political turmoil.
With candidates facing stiff competition, many parties have spent a significant amount of money on erecting campaign posters around the capital Cairo.
But some voters feel disgruntled by the myriad of posters that adorn car windows, shop fronts and high rise buildings.
“Well, we see many different posters everyday, which are posted on cars, but often … frankly, it could have an impact on the non-educated people, because it is a rapid and mobile advertising method, it could move from a place to another very fast. Therefore, the candidates are posting their posters on cars,” said Fathi al-Mahdi who was among thousands of protesters who rallied in Cairo’s Tahrir Squarelast year demanding the-then president Mubarak to step down.
The 43-year-old taxi driver works eight hours everyday in and around Cairo and encounters hundreds of campaign posters for presidential candidates.
Fathi who spends most of his day sitting in his car, smoking and listening to music or the news, said he does not know which candidate to pick.
“There are several candidates known to all people, such as Amr Moussa and Ahmed Shafiq, you know, but there are new candidates who are trying to promote themselves through certain ways of propaganda to influence the voters, but this method does not work, because a poster will not affect the opinion of the voter,” he said.
Fathi also said campaign posters lacked key information about the actual electoral process and it left many voters alienated, which will lead to confusion when the time comes to cast their ballots.
He said most of his customers echoed his feelings.
“No one would agree to hold it [presidential elections] nowadays — the security situation in particular is not satisfactory to anyone. The behaviour of the people has changed for the worse. I want to tell you people’s behaviour has changed sharply and Egyptians are not used to this type of behaviour.”
The May 23 election is the final leg in Egypt’s transition to civilian rule.
The army has said it will hand over power by July 1, but the military, which has backed every president for six decades and has sprawling business interests, is expected to be a powerful player behind the scenes.
The outcome of the race is being closely watched around the region, where Egypt has long had an influential role, as well as in the West, wary of the rise of Islamists in a nation that in 1979 became the first Arab state to make peace with Israel.