By Heba Hesham
CAIRO: Supporters of Hazem Salah Abu Ismail vowed Wednesday to continue their open-ended sit-in at his behest, after the Presidential Election Committee’s excluded him from the race a day earlier.
Abu Ismail announced Tuesday night that he would start a sit-in in front of the headquarters of the PEC after he and nine other contenders lost their appeals to the committee.
On Wednesday, the number of protesters in front of the PEC in Heliopolis had dwindled down as they prepare to move to Tahrir Square and stay until the mass protests on Friday, April 20 against Article 28.
The article gives the PEC’s decision legal immunity against appeals.
A number of protesters had already flocked to Tahrir on Wednesday morning.
“After the Friday protests we will wait for the Sheikh to see what action he will take with the PEC; we trust his decisions and we will do whatever he says,” said Ismail El-Shafei, a protester.
“We are waiting for his [Abu Ismail] signal; even if he tells us to leave, we will leave immediately,” said Yehia Abdel Moneim, one of Abu Ismail’s supporters.
The PEC also disqualified ex-spy chief Omar Suleiman, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Khairat Al-Shater and head of Ghad El-Thawra Party Ayman Nour.
The ultraconservative Islamist was ruled out after the PEC said his mother held a US citizenship, something he has vehemently denied. Earlier this month, Abu Ismail obtained a court order obliging the interior ministry provide him with a document that proves his mother’s citizenship.
The documents on the PEC had relied were provided by the American Department of State through the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Abu Ismail had also accused the authorities and foreign countries of conspiring against him, and the PEC of holding forged documents.
“These documents were not stamped, had no signatures on them, and didn’t clearly identify who sent them. We believe they are forged as the Sheikh said,” Ihab Samir, one of Abu Ismail’s supporters who was participating in the sit-in told, Daily News Egypt.
The protesters said the committee lost credibility, calling for it to be changed along with cancelling Article 28 of the Constitutional Declaration that prohibits appeals on the results issued by the PEC.
Although Abu Ismail left the location of the sit-in to attend a meeting with Salafi scholars, his supporters said that he would return to continue the sit-in directly after the meeting.
Abu Ismail tried Tuesday to enter the headquarters of the PEC after the decision to exclude him but was stopped by security.
Supporters of disqualified candidate Hazem Abu Ismail protest outside the PEC building on April 18. (Daily News Egypt Photo/Hassan Ibrahim)