By Aishwarya Rai, International News Editor
On January 23, Sami Anan, former chief of staff in the Egyptian army, was arrested following the announcement of his intention to run for president. The reasons cited by the armed forces were that Mr. Anan failed to get permission to run for the presidency, and that he had forged documents. The arrest has placed Egypt’s current president, Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, at the front of the candidate’s race; the elections will take place in March.
The arrest shortly preceded a televised statement issued by the Egyptian armed forces, stating that Anan’s presidency bid was “a serious breach of the laws of military service.” The “breach” was based on the army’s claim that Anan had not yet ended his military service, nor did he get permission to run for office. Mr. Anan was first taken to the Military Prosecutor’s office in Cairo, according to his son, Samir Anan, and one of his lawyers. Anan’s spokesperson states that no laws were broken, and that the charges are in fact based on an “inaccurate reading of Anan’s announcement,” according to Reuters. The Military Prosecution banned any media coverage of its investigation into Anan, in a statement issued shortly after the arrest.
Mr. Anan was considered to be the “last major challenger” to Sisi, according to Reuters and many other news sources. The abrupt arrest has stopped Mr. Anan’s campaign from continuing, quite like many other potential candidates who have been dropping out of the race for various reasons. Ahmed Shafik, a former prime minister and air force chief dropped out of the race earlier this month, stating that living outside of Egypt for many years put him out of touch with the country’s political life. Other ex-presidential candidates have blamed intimidation for their dropping out. Khaled Ali, a rights lawyer, stated that he will continue to run; however, a current case against him may lead to his disqualification.
Sisi announced his intention to run for a second four-year term on Friday, January 19. His popularity has suffered in recent years due to Egypt’s economy weakening under his purview; according to the Washington Post, “austerity measures, rising prices and lowered subsidies,” alongside the government tightening its grip on opponents, activists and websites that criticize the government, have all added to the dissent.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, January 30th print edition.
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