Egyptian Opposition Movement Suspends Operations and Withdraws Presidential Candidate
The main liberal opposition movement in Egypt, the Free Current political coalition, announced on Sunday that it would not nominate a candidate for the upcoming presidential elections. This decision comes after their frontrunner, prominent dissident Hisham Kassem, was sentenced to six months in prison. Kassem, who was considered a potential presidential candidate, was found guilty of defaming a former minister and showing contempt for officials.
- Egypt’s main liberal opposition movement, the Free Current, suspends operations and withdraws presidential candidate
- Prominent dissident Hisham Kassem sentenced to six months in jail for defamation and contempt
The Free Current stated that Kassem’s trial did not provide the basic electoral guarantees necessary for a fair and just election. They also criticized the political atmosphere in Egypt, claiming that it does not allow for free and fair elections because the regime acts as both a competitor and referee.
Why This Matters:
- Restrictions and accusations of repression surround the upcoming presidential election in Egypt
- Lack of electoral guarantees and unfair political atmosphere hinder opposition movements
Ahmed al-Tantawi, the only candidate currently campaigning, has denounced repeated harassment by security forces against his teams and supporters. He recently revealed that his phone had been bugged, further demonstrating the oppressive conditions surrounding the election campaign.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, who is widely expected to announce his candidacy for re-election, has not yet made an official announcement. El-Sissi, a former army chief, was first elected in 2014 after leading the ouster of elected Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, and he won the 2018 election in a landslide victory against one of his own supporters.
- El-Sissi’s official announcement of his candidacy for the upcoming presidential elections
- Potential further harassment and restrictions on opposition candidates
The Free Current coalition, formed in June by opposition parties, focuses on advocating economic liberalization and calling for an end to the military’s stranglehold on the country’s economy. Hisham Kassem’s criticism of the military’s economic role has made him a target, as economic struggles have plagued Egypt for over a year.
Kassem, who has been in custody since August 20, was initially summoned due to accusations of sharing online articles suggesting that a former minister had embezzled funds. During questioning at a police station, he was later accused of “contempt” by officers.
Rights group Amnesty International has called for Kassem’s immediate release, stating that his detention is part of the Egyptian authorities’ ongoing campaign to silence peaceful critics and punish dissent.
It is crucial to responsibly cover the tumultuous time in Egypt in order to understand the political and social discontent that underlies the proposed changes and the public backlash against the regime’s actions.
“The political atmosphere will not allow for free, fair and just elections, without which the regime is both competitor and referee.” – The Free Current
“The Egyptian authorities’ relentless campaign to silence peaceful critics and punish dissent… is continuing in full force.” – Amnesty International
2. Al Jazeera