Days after al-Sisi threatens those who will try to seek the presidential chair, a former Egyptian army general who planned to challenge Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in this year’s Egyptian elections, has been arrested days after declaring his candidacy, according to his aides.
During Hekyat Watan’ [Nation’s story] conference last Friday, al-Sisi threatened all those who will try to reach Egypt’s presidency.
He said while announcing his candidacy,”There are people I know who are corrupt, I will not allow them to come near this chair.”
Sami Anan, the former army chief of staff, announced earlier this month that he would stand against al-Sisi but on Tuesday he was summoned by the military for questioning over his candidacy.
The army, which is loyal to Al- Sisi, himself a former general, said that Anan had announced his candidacy “without getting permission from the armed forces” and accused him of failing to formally leave the military before entering politics.
Just as the army statement was released, Anan’s campaign aides said he had been arrested. ”
Sami Anan, the presidential candidate, has been arrested,” said Mahmoud Refaat, an Egyptian lawyer acting as a spokesman for Anan.
There was no immediate confirmation of Anan’s arrest from the Egyptian government.
His detention appeared to be the latest step of a coordinated campaign to force potential challengers to al-Sisi to abandon the race. If Anan is unable to run it is likely al-Sisi will go into the March elections with no major opponents.
Dr HA Hellyer, the senior nonresident fellow at the Atlantic Council and the Royal United Services Institute, said “Anan never stood a chance of winning the election, but he did stand an excellent chance of disrupting the system more generally via the campaign and possibly thereafter,” said
He added, “It doesn’t seem like the establishment is remotely interested in that scenario in the slightest – a critical mass within the establishment is on the same page, and isn’t willing to let anyone not on the same page to move beyond particular lines.”
It is worth to mention that Ahmed Shafik, a former prime minister, announced in December that he planned to run in the election, however, he recently said that he is no longer considering running for president in the upcoming elections.
Shafik, who has lived in exile with the support of the Emirates since he lost the 2012 Egyptian presidential election, had faced many challenges before surrendered to compete for al-Sisi in the elections.
First, Shafik appeared on Al Jazeera television to say he was being barred from leaving UAE. He said that the leaders of the United Arab Emirates were preventing him from leaving their country, seeking to block him from running again against Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
“I was surprised to find myself prevented from leaving our sister country,” the former general, Ahmed Shafik, said in a videotaped statement from Dubai.
He added,” I reject interventions into the affairs of my country by preventing me from participating in a constitutional process and a sacred national mission.”
Later, in a surprise move, Ahmed Shafik was deported from the United Arab Emirates and arrived in Cairo.
His family said earlier they feared he had been “kidnapped”. Sources said he had been picked up by Egyptian authorities at Cairo airport.
Earlier after being deported to Cairo, Shafik’s family said that he had been taken from their home by UAE authorities and flown by private plane back to Cairo.
Days later after being met by Egyptian security services upon arriving in Cairo and promptly disappeared from public view, he re-emerged to say he was no longer running for the elections!
In the same context, leaked tapes, which was revealed last week, strongly suggest that Ahmed Shafik abandoned his Egyptian presidential bid after being told that he would be smeared with allegations of sexual misconduct and corruption, sources close to the former prime minister have told Middle East Eye.
MEE’s sources did not divulge the identity of the messenger but said that they had claimed to have videotapes of alleged sexual misconduct and threatened to make Shafik the focus of a corruption investigation.
Sources in the Shafik camp told MEE that the threats were made to force him to abandon his bid for the presidency.
Also, a leaked conversation revealed that an Egyptian secret service agent ordered a prominent TV host to prepare a showreel of footage to discredit former presidential hopeful Ahmed Shafik as a Muslim Brotherhood sympathizer.
Anwar Sadat, the nephew of the assassinated former president, also threw in the towel on potential candidacy last week, saying that a climate of fear and intimidation surrounds the vote in Egypt. He added that he was afraid for the safety of his campaign staff if he ran.
Khaled Ali, a 45-year-old human rights lawyer, was charged with public indecency soon after announcing he was planning to run in the elections. He is so far staying in the race but will be disqualified if he is convicted.
Moreover, an Egyptian army colonel was sentenced to six years in prison for announcing his own plans to run while still serving in uniform.
The text of the army statement blasting Anan was broadcast on state television in Egypt. “The armed forces will not overlook the blatant legal violations [he] has committed which are a serious breach of the laws of military service.”
Mr Refaat, the campaign spokesman, said 30 of Anan’s supporters had been arrested on Monday. “I charge the regime [with] the entire responsibility of their safety,” he said on Twitter, adding,”Stop terrorism of Sisi.”
He appealed to the EU and to the US Congress to protect Anan and his supporters.
Election regulations stipulate that would-be candidates must obtain the backing of at least 20 members of parliament for their candidacy or be supported by at least 25,000 eligible voters in at least 15 governorates.
The window for candidates to qualify for the race closes on January 29.