Egypt tycoon’s party eyes economy with election bid

Ahmed Mortada Mansour, the 34-year-old son of the head of Cairo’s Zamalek football club, is going all out to win votes ahead of parliamentary elections that start in Egypt on Sunday.

Fireworks erupt at his rallies, his face is plastered across the streets of his Cairo constituency and children wear T-shirts printed with his image.

Flush with money, Mansour and his pro-market, liberal Free Egyptians Party are mounting an ambitious bid to win support when the country votes for a new 596-member parliament, the first since the previous assembly was dissolved in June 2012.

Newly elected lawmakers are expected to stand firmly behind President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who has crushed all opposition since ousting his Islamist predecessor in 2013. And with Sisi in full control of the country’s politics, experts say, economic policy is likely to be the only arena in which the new lawmakers will be able to play.

The Free Egyptians Party, founded by telecoms tycoon Naguib Sawiris — who has offered to buy an island off Greece or Italy to shelter people fleeing war-ravaged Syria — has 231 candidates across Egypt’s 27 provinces.

Many are former members of the National Democratic Party of longtime ex-leader Hosni Mubarak, which was dissolved after the 2011 uprising that toppled him.

Following a ban on NDP members being lifted, many are returning to politics even as scores of Islamists and other regime opponents face a brutal government crackdown.


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