February 17, 2018

Egypt's former chief of staff arrested, drops presidential bid

25 January 2018, 02:00 | Ruben Fields

Egypt's former army chief of staff Sami Anan speaks during news conference at his office in Cairo Thomson Reuters

Egypt's former army chief of staff Sami Anan speaks during news conference at his office in Cairo   Thomson Reuters

Any other candidates have only until January 29 to register before a final list is announced on February 20, according to election rules.

The army statement said that Anan falsified official documents stating he has ended his service at the armed forces, adding he will be summoned to be interrogated over "the violations and crimes" included in his move towards the presidential bid.

El-Sissi officially announced his intention to run for a second term on Friday, but the series of abrupt changes stoked questions about whether Anan's bid had been receiving quiet support in rival corners of the military.

A former army chief, Sisi led a 2013 military coup against his democratically-elected predecessor, Mohamed Morsi, of the now-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.

It said the declaration of his candidacy contained "open incitement against the armed forces with the aim of causing a rift between it and the great Egyptian people".

A senior worker at the campaign of Egyptian presidential hopeful Khaled Ali says they are holding an emergency meeting to assess their position following the arrest of another hopeful, former military chief of staff Sami Annan.

Mustafa Elshall, Anan's campaign manager, also reported the arrest on his Twitter account.

Annan, who was the armed forces' chief of staff until 2012, was arrested Tuesday at the same time that the military put out a statement listing the allegations against him, a security official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the press.

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They included the arrest of some of his campaign activists, a tight schedule that made it hard for potential candidates to gather the needed endorsements for their applications, and a generally unfair climate.

Anan announced his run on Saturday, a day after the current president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, confirmed his run at a second term.

Shafiq reversed a pledge to run after he was returned to Egypt from exile in the United Arab Emirates, while Sadat said the climate was not right for free elections.

Annan is not the first presidential candidate to give up his run after coming under pressure from institutions backing el-Sissi.

He received a three-month prison sentence for "offending public decency" after he allegedly made an obscene gesture during a protest. The islands became an unexpectedly hard issue for Mr. Sisi because they aroused a wave of rare public anger in a country where public protest is largely outlawed.

"He knows that he's under no pressure from overseas to play by the rules, so there's no incentive domestically or internationally to make this a free and fair election".

The only remaining well-known potential candidate is now Mortada Mansour, the head of Egypt's legendary Zamalek football club.

"Now we'll have to wait and see who will come up, probably somebody who does not have that much support on the ground and does not have any support in the military establishment", Ashour said.

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