Former Egypt presidential hopeful Ahmed Tantawi to face trial

Former Egypt presidential hopeful Ahmed Tantawi to face trial
After months of harassment following his announcement that he would challenge Egyptian dictator Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi in the upcoming elections, Ahmed Tantawi now faces a criminal trial.
2 min read
07 November, 2023
Tantawi joins a long list of other opponents of Sisi who have faced state harassment and criminal trials [Getty]

Egyptian former presidential hopeful Ahmed al-Tantawi will face trial for circulating unauthorised endorsement forms for Egypt's upcoming elections, a campaign member and rights defenders said Tuesday.

Tantawi, who withdrew his bid for the presidency last month after failing to gather enough endorsements to run, will face criminal court on charges of "circulating election-related papers without official authorisation", leading human rights defender Hossam Bahgat wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

A former member of his campaign confirmed the charges to AFP, saying their "lawyers were surprised to see his and the campaign manager's name" among the defendants in the case.

The former parliamentarian abandoned his bid for the presidency last month after alleging for months that the Egyptian authorities had harassed him and his campaign.

He was ultimately able to collect only 14,000 endorsements out of the 25,000 required to run, but maintained that he could win against incumbent President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in free elections.

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In an attempt to prove he had popular support, Tantawi had called on his supporters last month to print copies of the endorsement form and hand them in to the campaign in the place of the official forms provided by the election authority.

He later rescinded the call after members of his campaign were arrested. Tantawi said over 100 members of his campaign had been arrested in the weeks before he withdrew his bid.

The Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms on Tuesday published a list of the defendants who will face trial over the same charges, now scheduled for November 28.

The list includes Tantawi, his campaign manager Mohamed Aboul Deyar and 21 other former campaigners who are currently in detention.

Sisi's campaign had announced the former army chief had collected the endorsements of 424 of Egypt's 596 MPs, as well as 1.135 million citizens.

But Tantawi retorted that "if real elections were held, he would not gather more than one percent of the vote".

Sisi's decade-long rule has been marked by a relentless crackdown on human rights, with tens of thousands of dissidents detained according to Egyptian and international rights groups.

He is widely expected to secure a third term in elections scheduled for December 10-12, where a largely decimated opposition has been unable to present a popular alternative.