Egypt's presidential aspirant Sami Anan detained in military prison

Members of Wafd party chants amid a state of division within it over Badawi's nomination for 2018 presidential election Amr Moustafa Egypt Today

As Egypt's presidential elections approach, potential opponents to incumbent President Abdel-Fatteh El Sisi are falling by the wayside, with the latest attack aimed at a leading member of the opposition campaign.

"This is all theater", said a shopkeeper outside the Ghad party headquarters in downtown Cairo.

Ahmed Shafiq, a prime minister under Egypt's former long-serving president Hosni Mubarak had vowed to stand but changed his mind after claiming the climate in the country was not right for free elections.

El-Sissi, a former military commander, was elected in 2014, a year after leading the military to topple the divisive but freely-elected President Mohamed Morsi.

According to Al-Ahram Arabic news site, Moussa has managed to collect 47,000 endorsements from eligible voters and 26 endorsements from parliament members.

Despite this, Egypt's electoral commission has insisted it will ensure March's vote is fair and transparent.

Sisi's campaign said on Monday it had received nomination pledges from 915,000 citizens.

"We have a respectable program that we are offering to the Egyptian people and we are presenting ourselves just like any other candidate would", the deputy head of the Ghad party, Mahmoud Mousa, said.

Anan was arrested by the military as he drove to his office last week after being accused of running for office without military permission.

A runoff vote will be held in April if no candidate receives more than 50 percent support in the first round.

The signatories of Sunday's statement include 2012 presidential candidate Abdel-Moneim Aboul Fotouh, former lawmaker Mohammed Anwar Sadat, who quit the race saying he feared for the safety of his supporters, and Annan's top campaign aides Hazem Hosny and Hisham Genena.

"The Egyptian state does not want this to be described as a referendum internationally, which it would be if there is no challenger whatsoever to Sisi on the ballot", said H.A. Hellyer, senior non-resident fellow at the Atlantic Council.

Sisi announced on January 20 he would run for a second, four-year term.

Earlier on Monday, a number of political figures called for a boycott of the presidential elections, in a statement, due to the absence of a democratic process hours before the end of the presidential candidacy nomination period on 29 January.

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