Egypt arrests advocate of only presidential contender, says NGO

A rights organization reported on Tuesday that Egypt has extended the detention of a supporter of the only candidate in the upcoming 2024 presidential election.

The Egyptian Front for Human Rights revealed that Amr Ali Atiya’s detention was prolonged due to his online endorsement of Ahmed al-Tantawi, the inaugural candidate for the anticipated spring ballot.

Detained since August 30, Atiya faced charges of “terrorism” and disseminating “misinformation,” similar to two members of Tantawi’s campaign who have been in custody since September 4, according to EFHR.

In 2014, former army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was elected as president with an overwhelming mandate, securing nearly 97 percent of the vote. This followed his leadership in the military’s removal of the elected Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi, one year prior.

Sisi secured his re-election in March 2018 with a strikingly similar margin, as his sole “opponent” was a fervent supporter.

Although he has not officially declared his candidacy yet, analysts across the board anticipate that Sisi will announce his bid for the upcoming year’s election.

On Monday, the Civil Democratic Movement, among the remaining opposition groups persevering through a decade of Sisi’s crackdown on dissent, declared, Egypt is not equipped to endure a third presidential term.

Delaying a change will lead Egypt “to the brink of an explosion”, the Civil Democratic Movement said.

“People can no longer have a life of dignity,” it added in a statement referring to “uninterrupted waves of inflation”.

The primary focal point of the election is expected to revolve around the economy.

According to official data released on Sunday, annual inflation in August reached a historic high at 39.7 percent. Additionally, by the beginning of this year, the Egyptian pound had depreciated by 50 percent against the US dollar.

In early August, backers of opposition activist Hisham Kassem reported that he had initiated a hunger strike following the commencement of his trial, which they decried as “politically motivated” in the lead-up to the election.

Kassem’s Free Current coalition, established in June by opposition parties, champions economic liberalization and calls for breaking the military’s grip on the Egyptian economy.

Kassem was initially called in for questioning following a complaint by a former minister, who alleged that he had shared online articles insinuating embezzlement of funds by the minister.

Subsequently, during his interrogation at a police station, the opposition activist faced accusations of “contempt” from the officers.

Activists report that Kassem continues his hunger strike, and a court is scheduled to deliver a verdict in his case on Saturday.

Egypt has thousands of political prisoners, human rights groups estimate.

Despite the release of nearly 1,000 individuals in the past year, non-governmental organizations report that nearly three times as many people have been detained during the same period.

Tantawi declared his candidacy for the presidency while in exile in March, having left Egypt the previous year due to reported “security threats.”

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