Egypt's Sisi launches re-election bid after arrest of main rival

Egypt's Sisi launches re-election bid after arrest of main rival

The Egyptian presidential hopeful and rights lawyer Khaled Ali has quit the race, becoming the latest would-be candidate who either has bowed out or been forced to abandon a challenge to the president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, before the March election.

The Commission will continue to receive candidacy requests until January 29.

Egypt's Supreme Council of Armed Forces accused Anan of falsifying documents stating that his military service had terminated and therefore violating the country's military law by running for election without the army's approval.

On Tuesday, top army officials said Annan had failed to follow regulations before announcing his candidacy, which require officers to formally end their service and ask for permission from the central command.

The boxes contained "recommendations" from voters who want el-Sissi to run for a second, four-year term.

Former military commander Sisi was elected in 2014, a year after he led the army to oust Islamist President Mohamed Mursi.

It also said Anan's announcement on Saturday "constitutes direct incitement against the armed forces with the intent of causing a rift between it and the great Egyptian people".

In a statement, Amnesty International said Anan's arrest "shows a blatant disregard for the rights to freedom of expression and association and the right to public participation". His family reported that he had been arrested at his home in the UAE, deported to Egypt and detained for more than 24 hours.

The spokesman for Anan's electoral campaign, Hazem Hosni, on Facebook yesterday had to deny rumors that the Muslim Brotherhood, a banned organization in Egypt, had chose to back the former general.

Other candidates are Khaled Ali, human rights lawyer and former head of the Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rightr and Mortada Mansour, Chairman of Zamalek SC and former lawyer. He blamed the country's problems on Sisi's "wrong policies". Unless someone steps forward by Monday, the deadline to enter the race, el-Sissi could be the sole candidate.

Ahmed Shafik, a former prime minister and air force chief, abandoned a bid this month, saying that after several years living overseas he was out of touch with Egyptian politics.

Ali also cited a case filed against him, where he was sentenced in September in absentia to three months in jail on accusations of "offending public decency", a ruling he appealed.

"He knows that he's under no pressure from overseas to play by the rules, so there's no incentive domestically or internationally to make this a free and fair election".

"Now we'll have to wait and see who will come up, probably somebody who does not have that much support on the ground and does not have any support in the military establishment", Ashour said.

The March vote marks the third elections since the 2011 Arab Spring revolts, which toppled President Hosni Mubarak.