Will Egypt's opposition manage to put forward rivals for the president's seat?
At a time when Egypt has been undergoing the most challenging economic crisis in modern history and the worst human rights record witnessed in decades, the country's opposition groups have yet to agree on an alternative candidate to compete against incumbent president Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi for the soon-to-come elections.
In a rare move, the Civil Democratic Movement, an opposition coalition comprising a dozen political parties, called on Sisi earlier this week to refrain from running for a third term amidst a crackdown on the regime critics and any supporters of possible presidential hopefuls.
On Monday, the movement voiced in a statement concerns over the citizen's people's disappointment in the current government, viewing the next election as "a chance for safe and peaceful change" to "end the suffering" of millions of citizens as well as "the ongoing decline" on all almost all levels.
According to the movement, the indicators witnessed so far have been unsatisfactory amidst smear campaigns targeting any attempts to promote presidential candidates, signalling what the group described as "previously engineered polls."
"Sisi has never and will never allow any candidate of influence to run against him. Most of them are known to have [allegedly] been intimidated by his security apparatus, and their families and supporters [reportedly] nailed in the process," a high-profile political sociologist told The New Arab on condition of anonymity.
Most recently, a police officer and three lawyers have been accused of terrorism-related charges for reportedly supporting the candidacy of former MP Ahmed Tantawy via social media posts, TNA's sister Arabic language outlet Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reported on Tuesday.
Egypt is expected to hold presidential polls during the early months of 2024, with a widely anticipated vote to favour Sisi inevitably.
"Unfortunately, most candidates have no clear agenda or electoral programme, whereas political groups have not yet united behind a single strong figure," a prominent political analyst told TNA.
"The situation in Egypt today shows a regime that has lost its credibility and popularity but enjoys external, foreign support and that of the army. The balance of power is not on the side of opposition that has not yet put forward a rival who would garner international support to compete with Sisi," the analyst remarked.
Earlier last month, another political coalition criticised Sisi for allegedly persecuting politicians and adopting practices that "represent a severe danger to the political and economic future of…the country."
Since he came to power following a 2013 military coup, Sisi has been known for running the country with an iron fist.
About 60,000 political prisoners are reportedly behind bars in Egypt, many allegedly facing abuse, torture and medical neglect.
It is widely believed that severe economic mismanagement has also played a significant role in Egypt's current predicament, with the Egyptian military controlling large sectors of the economy and the state investing billions of dollars in "white elephant" projects such as the New Administrative Capital.
Egypt's annual headline inflation hit 39.7 per cent last month compared to 38.2 per cent in July as the prices of necessities have continued to soar, taking a heavy toll on low and average-income households.