Egyptian authorities detained Sami Anan, a former army general who had announced his candidacy for the upcoming presidential elections, on January 23. Anan was seen as President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s last major challenger as he attempts to secure a second term in office.
The ex-military chief of staff, Anan was taken to the Military Prosecutor's office in Cairo, according to his son and one of his lawyers.
His arrest came shortly after the army made a statement on state TV saying that his candidacy was invalid due to the fact that he had not properly ended his service at the military, a requirement for running for office under Egyptian law. The army said he had falsified his end of service documents.
Anan’s spokesperson Hazem Hosni denied he had broken any laws, saying the charges “come from an inaccurate reading of Anan's announcement”.
“To be banned by the state to enter the elections [means] that the state doesn’t want to hold an election,” Hosni said.
The Military Prosecution also issued a statement on January 23 banning media coverage of its investigation into Anan.
Anan, who served as armed forces chief of staff from 2005-2012, was the final high profile challenger to Sisi left in the race after a number of others dropped out, some citing intimidation by the authorities.
Ahmed Shafik, a former prime minister and air force chief, abandoned a bid this month, saying that after several years living abroad the United Arab Emirates, he was out of touch with Egyptian politics. The announcement came amid media criticism and speculation that he was being held by authorities in a Cairo hotel.
After he announced his presidential run, Shafik claimed that the UAE, a major Sisi ally and funder, was preventing him from travelling to Egypt.
Mohamed Anwar al-Sadat, the nephew of assassinated President Anwar al-Sadat, said recently he would not run, citing an environment of fear surrounding the vote. Human rights lawyer Khaled Ali has said he will still run, but he may be disqualified by a legal case against him.
Sisi led a military coup against Egypt’s first-ever democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi in 2013 and was elected president the next year.
The economy has been hit hard under Sisi, with ongoing unrest crippling the tourism sector. Sisi has also introduced harsh austerity measures after taking a large US$12 billion loan from International Monetary Fund. Sisi has also been accused of a brutal crackdown on dissent. Many secular and Islamist activists who were part of the 2011 uprising have been jailed or killed.
Just weeks into his military takeover in 2013, Sisi’s junta regime ordered the killing of almost 1000 civilians as they organised a sit-in at a mosque near Rabba Square in Cairo to protest against Morsi’s ousting.
[Abridged from TeleSUR English.]