His presidential campaign slogan is “One of Us,” and Hamdeen Sabahi is optimistic that his campaign will yield results in the upcoming presidential election in Egypt. In an interview with Bikyamasr.com, Sabahi said his campaign is for all Egyptians, and hopes his message of inclusion resonates with the people.
“As a new president for a new Egypt, my first decision will be a quick rise in salaries for most of the working citizens either in public or private sectors, and also a aid for poor people the very first moment I am in the [presidential] palace,” Sabahi told Bikyamasr.com when he was asked about his first decisions he would take if elected president of Egypt.
“Egypt’s economy is a priority, and lots of steps will be taken to boost it. I will spare no efforts to bring all business experts to see what’s possible procedures to quickly support our economy” can be made, Sabahi added, when he was asked about the economy’s priority’s in his agenda.
“Regarding the economy and social justice, I hope to establish a state-capitalist Egypt, in which the public and private sectors cooperate with one another, the Egyptian should be entitled to eight things: housing, health care, food, free education, work, insurance and a fair wage, and a clean environment,” Sabahi continued in a relation between economy and social justice.
When asked about what would a Sabahi presidency would look like, he said it “will be reachable by all Egyptians and I will not change my telephone numbers, I will add some telephones to receive all call from every Egyptian, who are in need to a help, mothers of martyrs of the Egyptian revolution will be in my hand, while I am stepping forward on my very first steps to the presidency palace, and it will be human.”
He added that “poorer areas have a certain plan in my agenda. I will give them a priority in my first months in office. Slums area are so important to us, there will be a huge concentration on these areas, they will feel a difference,” was his answer about how he would intend to support the poorer segments of Egypt.
“Peasants and agriculture have a special place in my agenda, Egypt mainly is an agricultural country and I will call off all debts, which weighs on every Egyptian peasants,” he said when asked about his policy in the agriculture sector.
“I will cut off natural gas supplies to Israel, which is not part of the [Camp David] treaty. We have no obligation to export gas to Israel, but we will still adhere to the Camp David treaty. Peace is so important to us, we have no time for war, and it is high time to build, not to destruct,” Sabahi said, commenting about gas and the peace treaty with Israel.
When asked about how he would fund his financial programs, considering Egypt’s treasury is nearing empty, he said, “I will cancel all subsides for gasoline, which will at least provide the Egyptian treasury with 70 million dollars and I will also rethink energy subsides to big companies, which pay very little, and gain too much.”
Sabahi, who was born in July 1954, and obtained his master’s in journalism. Shortly thereafter, he and some colleagues founded The Rising, a center for Arabic journalism, where many young, Arab journalists were trained in the field.
Sabahi became an active member of the Journalists Syndicate and was appointed as head of its media committee. In 2000, Sabahi was elected as an independent member of parliament.
In 2003, Sabahi was arrested for the fourth time for opposing Egypt’s support for the US’s decision to invade Iraq – even though members of the parliament are supposed to have immunity. A year later, he helped establish the grassroots coalition against such action.
“Egypt must remain at the core of the Arab world. This is its identity and destiny, the revival of Egypt is not a matter of ideology alone. We have to have a vision for revival. And my vision leans heavily on the experience of Abdel-Nasser,” he said, which has been met with much criticism during his campaign.
Sabahi seems to be the candidate “of the people, for the people,” but the question for many is will that populist tone give him the votes to ascend to Egypt’s top job.