Nasserist presidential hopeful Hamdeen Sabbahi countered Wednesday accusations that he defended the former regimes of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi.
Sabbahi said on a talk show on private Al-Nahar satellite channel Wednesday that he has not received a penny from any Arab or foreign regime. He has constantly denied allegations he had a relationship with the two deposed despots.
Earlier in the week, well-known journalist Belal Fadl, who writes for Al-Masry Al-Youm and independent paper Al-Tahrir and supports Abdel Moneim Abouel Fotouh for president, fiercely criticized Sabbahi on Twitter.
"I still hold my opinion that Sabbahi never criticized Qadhafi or Saddam in the times of their glory," he tweeted, adding, "I challenge anyone to bring me an article of Hamdeen attacking Qadhafi or Saddam." He promised to officially apologize if proven wrong.
Rumors have long circulated about Sabbahi’s ties to Qadhafi and Hussein. Some said Qadhafi gave Sabbahi funds to launch his weekly newspaper, Al-Karama, which means “dignity.” The paper ran a supplement in 2006 on the achievements of Qadhafi’s 1969 Libyan revolution.
Sabbahi also defended his efforts to provide medicine and rice to the Iraqi people during the Gulf War in the early 1990s.
“I [represented] the Egyptian people, not the Egyptian regime. My relationship was with the Iraqi people, not the Iraqi regime," he said.
"Saddam, who some disagreed with, was not the symbol of democracy, but he allowed 4 million Egyptians to enter Iraq and he treated them well," he added.
Sabbahi stressed that he would not allow former Prime Minister and current presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq to return to government, saying the PM was never part of the 25 January revolution.
“Egypt would not settle down if one of the representatives of the old [Mubarak] regime wins, and those who want stability for this country should continue the revolution,” he continued. “The nominations of [former Foreign Minister] Amr Moussa and Ahmed Shafiq showed disrespect to the Egyptian people, because [Moussa and Shafiq] did not value the revolution, and they will lose the election.”