Hundreds of billboard advertisements in support of the incumbent sprung up over the weekend alongside existing ones on the streets of Cairo. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil, File)
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Campaigning began in Egypt's presidential elections this weekend, a contest pitting a little-known, face-saving candidate against the incumbent, general-turned-president, Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, who is virtually certain to win. Set for almost a month, campaigning ends on March 23 and the vote is staggered over three days – March 26-28 – apparently to secure a decent turnout for an election whose result most agree is a foregone conclusion and accord it some measure of respectability.Moussa Mustafa Moussa, chairman of the small Al-Ghad party, is an ardent Sisi supporter and entered the race at the eleventh hour to save the president and his government the embarrassment of a one-candidate vote. Sisi himself has yet to appear at any campaign rallies, and his campaign spokesman, Mohammad Bahaa Abu Shouka, said Sunday the president has no plans, at least until the end of this week, to hold any rallies.In addition to arresting and intimidating would-be candidates, authorities are investigating leaders of secular and liberal opposition parties as well as public figures who openly branded the election a "sham" and called on voters to boycott the vote.
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