Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s government arrested the nation’s former military chief of staff Lieutenant General Sami Anan after he announced a presidential run against Sisi. He remains in custody, but his campaign announced he had suspended his presidential run.
The last challenger seen as a potential threat to the re-election of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was detained on Tuesday and halted his campaign after the army accused him of breaking the law by running for office without permission.
Former military chief of staff Lieutenant General Sami Anan, who had announced his candidacy last week, was taken to the Military Prosecutor’s office in Cairo, according to his son and one of his lawyers, who were waiting outside the building.
According to Anan’s son, the candidate’s family has not heard from him since Sisi-linked authorities detained him.
In a statement, Sisi’s Army reportedly claimed that Anan’s presidential run amounted to “a serious breach of the laws of military service,” indicating “that as a military officer he was required to end his service and seek permission before seeking office.”
Anan’s campaign denied the former candidate had violated any laws.
The charges “come from an inaccurate reading of Anan’s announcement,” Hazem Hosni, a spokesman for the candidate, told Reuters, without elaborating.
“To be banned by the state to enter the elections … [means] that the state doesn’t want to hold an election,” added the spokesman.
Anan has officially ended his campaign.
“The arrest of Anan, a former member of Egypt’s supreme military council for armed forces (SCAF), appears to be a calculated move to push him out of the race. Earlier a declaration by the military accused him of election violations and said he would be ‘summoned for interrogation in front of specialized personnel,” notes Reuters in a separate article.
Anan became the second former high-ranking official to be prohibited from running against Sisi.
“The Egyptian army chief-turned-president’s announcement surprised few experts, who say el-Sisi is almost guaranteed to be re-elected after he made it nearly impossible for any real political opponent to challenge his firm grip on power,” notes Al Jazeera.
“I think the word ‘election’ is probably too generous,” Timothy Kaldas, a non-resident fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy, told Al Jazeera.
Egypt has scheduled its so-called election for March.