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Egypt's allies urged to denounce 'farcical' presidential election

Published : Tuesday, 13 February, 2018 at 10:04 PM Count : 601

Egypt’s western allies have been urged to denounce the country’s “farcical” presidential election, after authorities detained a top anti-corruption official and the former running mate of a challenger to President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi.

Fourteen international and Egyptian rights groups, including Human Rights Watch and the International Commission of Jurists, condemned the forthcoming March presidential elections, accusing the Sisi government of having “trampled over even the minimum requirements for free and fair elections” in his bid for a second term.

They released a statement demanding the US, EU and individual European states allied to Egypt “should speak out publicly now to denounce these farcical elections, rather than continue with largely unquestioning support for a government presiding over the country’s worst human rights crisis in decades”.

The NGOs condemned the election on the same day that Egypt’s former top auditor Hisham Geneina was seized at his home in New Cairo by police, according to his lawyer, Ali Taha.

Geneina had run the short-lived election campaign of former military chief of staff Sami Anan, who was detained last month and accused by the army of running for office without permission, bringing his presidential bid to a halt.

“He’s wanted over his latest statements concerning Sami Anan and the alleged documents and files he possessed,” Taha said.

Geneina, who led Egypt’s anti-graft agency until he was fired by Sisi in 2016, previously gave an interview to Huffington Post’s Arabic site, where he alleged the existence of video footage proving complicity by the country’s top leadership in crimes committed during a period of military rule after the country’s 2011 revolution. He said the evidence previously possessed by Anan had been stashed abroad, to be released in case any harm should come to him in Egypt.

“In light of what Hisham Geneina has said about General Sami Anan possessing documents ... this is a crime intended to raise doubts about the state and its institutions,” the military said in a statement.

Geneina’s arrest came after he was brutally assaulted by unarmed assailants two weeks ago. Egypt’s interior ministry later released a statement alleging that his injuries came from a brawl following a traffic collision. Geneina and his family denied this, calling it “a failed kidnapping and assassination attempt”.

Formerly the country’s chief anti-corruption auditor, Geneina made headlines in 2016 when he said publicly that government corruption had cost Egypt $68bn (£49bn) over a four-year period. He was then sacked, arrested and sentenced to a year in prison, later  on appeal.

The March election narrowly avoided becoming a one-man race after a single candidate, Moussa Mustafa Moussa, who previously campaigned in favour of Sisi,  as the only challenger at the last minute.

Five other candidates, including a former prime minister, the  Anwar Sadat, a  and a military colonel, have all dropped out of the race after arrests or harassment.

On a visit to Cairo on Monday, the US secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, defended American support for Sisi’s government at a time when Egypt is facing a barrage of criticism over its renewed repression of electoral democracy.

“We have always advocated for free and fair elections, transparent elections, not just for Egypt but in any country,” he said.

The Guardian/SU

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