by Marwa Yahya, Wang Lei
CAIRO, May 25 (Xinhua) -- Ex-army chief Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi and leftist politician Hamdeen Sabahy, the only two candidates in Egypt's presidential race slated for Monday and Tuesday, have revealed their blueprints for rebuilding the turmoil-stricken Arab country, with their priority on restoring security and improving the economy.
Following are some of their important views on key issues.
The main challenge for both candidates is fighting poverty and rebuilding a shattered economy represented by floating inflation, high unemployment, falling investment and sliding tourism revenues.
The former military chief is in favor of austerity measures, urging businessmen to "set up an account for funding projects" while insisting that "everyone must contribute."
The state spends nearly 30 percent of its budget on costly subsidies for bread and energy. Sisi said he would seek to gradually remove the subsidies after raising private incomes.
Sabahy emphasizes that his reform plans will target the rich, including big factories that are receiving energy subsidies.
In his 166-page platform, the Nasserite candidate favors higher taxes on upper-class Egyptians and national projects aimed at providing housing for citizens.
Both candidates are targeting desert reclamation to extend people's living area. They promise to build more new cities in the vast desert area with improved road networks and supporting infrastructure.
ON FIGHTING TERRORISM AND RESPECTING HUMAN RIGHTS
Egypt has suffered street strife and Islamist militant violence since the 2011 protests that toppled long-time leader Hosni Mubarak.
In televised interviews, Sisi has promised to achieve a balance between maintaining security and preserving human rights.
He calls on Egyptians to support the police, while also admitting that violations of law happened in the security operations against militants nationwide. He stresses on " accountability" principals on violators if elected.
Sabahy, however, has vowed to restructure the Interior Ministry by improving and developing the police force. People will be treated fairly without any form of power abuses, he said, adding that the main task for maintaining national security will be counter-terrorism.
On whether to grant a presidential pardon to those who have been detained under the controversial protest law, Sisi said he would respect the judiciary, while Sabahy has vowed to amend the law, describing it as "unconstitutional." He also promises to release political prisoners jailed under that law, regardless their affiliations.
Both candidates promise to step down without military interference if Egyptians demand, as protesters did to their two predecessors, former President Mohamed Morsi and Mubarak.
ON MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD
As for the blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood, from which ousted President Morsi hails, both candidates agree that the group will not have a future in Egypt.
Sisi, who led the removal of Egypt's first freely-elected Islamist president, has vowed that the banned group "will not exist" if he wins the election.
Sabahy said that according to the law, the Islamist movement will not exist "as an organization," but Islamists will not confront security harassment if they are committed to nonviolence protests.
ON FOREIGN RELATIONS
When asked about the 1979 Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty, Sisi said that despite a lot of challenges, Egypt's relations with Israel have remained stable for more than 30 years.
Sabahy said that the peace treaty should be amended in accordance with international laws to allow Egypt to fully control the sensitive Sinai Peninsula. According to the treaty, only restricted Egyptian troops are allowed to station in the peninsula.
On Egypt's ties with big powers, Sisi said the Egyptian-U.S. relations are strategic, stable and steady, and will remain so, although the United States has suspended parts of its military aid to Egypt after Morsi's removal. Sisi also said that the Egyptian- Russian ties will be boosted if he is elected.
Sabahy focuses more on improving Egypt's ties with African countries. "My first visiting country as a president will be Ethiopia," he said when asked about the ongoing brawl over the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.