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Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Anan detained by army, campaign organizers say

Former military chief of staff Sami Anan was detained yesterday after the army summoned him for questioning over his bid for the presidency, campaign organizers told Reuters. The Armed Forces put out a statement on the detention that was read aloud by a spokesman, a version of which was dispatched to both the domestic and international press. The statement said the Armed Forces “will not overlook the blatant legal violations [Anan] has committed, which are a serious breach of the laws of military service.” Anan is alleged to have:

  • Announced his candidacy “without seeking permission from the Armed Forces … or taking the steps necessary to terminate his service,” necessary because under law military officers (even those in the reserves) must receive permission to resign their commissions before seeking elected office;
  • Forged official documents that claimed his military service was over;
  • Driving a wedge between the military and the Egyptian people in his declaration of his intention to run for president.

Read and watch for yourself: The Armed Forces’ televised statement can be seen here and the statement listing its charges against Anan can be read here (pdf).

The Armed Forces also issued a gag orderforbidding the publication or broadcast of any further news in the case until it completes its investigation.

Anan’s campaign announced it was going on hiatus until further notice “out of fear for the safety and security of all citizens who dream of change.”

Anan officially disqualified from running: National Elections Committee (NEC) has officially disqualified Anan from running, citing his “non-civilian status,” Al Masry Al Youm reports. This comes as NEC Chairman Lashin Ibrahim is said to have met with a high-level delegation from the US Embassy, as well as Mexico’s ambassador to Cairo, to reassure them that the presidential election would comply with international standards, Egypt Independent reports.

Lawyer and rights activist Khaled Ali will hold a press conference at 6pm today to announce his final position on a possible presidential campaign, Al Masry Al Youm reports. Ali’s campaign has said it is struggling to secure the minimum of 25,000 voter endorsements it needs to file his nomination papers before the 29 January deadline, alleging bureaucratic hurdles at government offices at which citizens are required to register as nominators.

International media reaction to Anan’s arrest: The overall theme is that while Anan may not have been a popular candidate, both of the most viable opposition candidates to President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s re-election bid are now off the playing field. “The elder Mr. Anan, 69, was not considered a strong challenger to Mr. Sisi … But his detention does suggest how far Mr. Sisi is willing to go to clear the field of challengers — even if doing so means crossing senior figures inside the military establishment that is his political bedrock,” writes the New York Times’ Declan Walsh. Other outlets, including the Washington Post and the Financial Times, are taking note of rate at which potential rival candidates, some of whom have been military men, have been dropping.

The Ikhwan angle: Hamza Hendawi notes for The Associated Press how a letter penned by an Ikhwan member has provided loyalist media with additional ammunition to link Anan to the Ikhwan. Annan’s spokesman, Hazem Hosny, sought to distance him from the Ikhwan but “insisted that Islamists are an integral part of Egyptian society who should be included in the political process.”

Meanwhile, President Abdel Fattah El Sisi became the first to take the medical examination required for election candidates, MENA reports, according to Ahram Online.

Deadline next week: The deadline for candidates to enter the presidential race is Monday, 29 January.

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