Egyptian opposition politician Ahmed al-Tantawi announced on Friday he was abandoning his bid for the presidency after weeks of alleging harassment and arrests by the authorities.
Despite mobilising relatively wide support since announcing his intention to run against incumbent President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Tantawi was able to collect only 14,000 of the 25,000 endorsements needed to register his candidacy, his campaign coordinator said.
Each candidate must submit the endorsements of either 20 lawmakers or 25,000 citizens by October 15 in order to be eligible.
"I do not and will not withdraw" from Egyptian politics, Tantawi said in a speech in front of a cheering crowd, adding: "My motto will remain 'bread, freedom and social justice'" -- echoing the refrain of the Arab Spring uprising of 2011.
Sisi had earlier announced he had collected the endorsements of 424 of Egypt's 596 MPs, as well as 1.135 million citizens.
But Tantawi retorted that "if real elections were held, he would not gather more than one percent of the vote".
The opposition hopeful had previously said that more than 100 of his supporters had been arrested in recent weeks.
Egypt announced last month that it would be holding its presidential election on December 10-12, with Sisi later formally announcing that he would seek a third term.
Tantawi's campaign had for weeks charged that it faced harassment and arrests by the authorities, with members testifying publicly to having faced assaults or being prevented from registering their endorsements.
Tantawi himself has said that the authorities have tapped his phone since September 2021. The University of Toronto's Citizen Lab attributed the surveillance to the Egyptian government "with high confidence".