ARAB REPUBLIC OF EGYPT: Authorities must cease interference in upcoming election and set guarantees for free candidacy

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31 Jan 2018
[International Secretariat]

The arrest of presidential candidate and former Armed Forces Chief of Staff, Sami Anan, is an attack on the rights to public participation and freedom of expression by eliminating any serious opposition to President Abdelfattah al-Sisi in the upcoming presidential elections.

Sami Anan had announced his intention to run in the presidential elections on 20 January. On 23 January, the Armed Forces announced that Sami Anan must be interrogated and face legal action for announcing his nomination in the presidential elections “without obtaining the permission of the Armed Forces.”

The statement also accused Sami Anan of forging paperwork that showed his military service had ended, which the Armed Forces denies. Serving personnel are not eligible to run in elections according to Egypt`s military regulations.

“The arrest of Sami Anan is another brazen attack on the rights of the Egyptian people to freedom of expression and political participation. It appears that Sami Anan has been detained because he was widely considered to be a serious contender against President Abdelfattah al-Sisi. This is not the first time such a contender has been prevented from running against the incumbent.”

A growing number of candidates have been arrested or convicted on trumped up charges by the Egyptian authorities. These include former Armed Forces Colonel Ahmed Konsowa who was detained on charges of “disobeying military orders by expressing his political views” and “committing acts that violate military norms by publishing a video on Facebook announcing his plan to run for the presidency.” On December 2017, a military court sentenced Konsowa to six years in prison on these charges.

Former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik appeared in a video on 29 November 2017, a few days after announcing his candidacy, declaring that the UAE’s authorities had barred him from travelling to France to meet with Egyptian diaspora to discuss his electoral campaign. His family reported that he had been arrested at his home in the UAE, deported to Egypt and detained for more than 24 hours.

In September 2017 a court in Cairo sentenced presidential candidate and prominent human rights lawyer Khalid Ali to three months in jail on the charge of “violating public decency” for a recent court ruling reversing a controversial Egyptian government decision to hand over control of two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia. Khalid Ali was widely viewed as President Sisi’s top challenger in the polls at the time of his arrest.

24 January 2018

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