Egypt's former chief of staff arrested, drops presidential bid

The military accuses presidential candidate Sami Anan of breaching the army's rules

The military accuses presidential candidate Sami Anan of breaching the army's rules

The arrest of presidential candidate and former Armed Forces Chief of Staff, Sami Anan, is an attack on the rights to public participation and freedom of expression by eliminating any serious opposition to President Abdelfattah al-Sisi in the upcoming presidential elections, Amnesty International said today.

A day earlier, the military announced it was investigating another potential rival to El-Sisi, Lieutenant General Sami Annan, on a number of allegations, including "incitement" against the armed forces.

"The Armed Forces do not condone the blatant breach of the rules and regulations of military service that the accused has committed, such as committing the crime of forgery represented in the termination of his service in the armed forces, which led to his inclusion in the electoral roster", the council's statement said. "They forced him out of his auto, led him into a van and left", Samir said.

Sisi, a former head of the military, is considered virtually certain to win re-election in the March 26-28 vote. The chief military prosecutor slapped a news blackout effective immediately on details of the investigation, saying the media must only report official statements on the case.

"Egypt was the first country to warn the world of the threat of terrorism that results from political and sectarian conflicts", Minister of Interior Magdy Abdel Ghaffar said, adding that "the Egyptian leadership has consistently called for political solutions to end the regional conflicts that have spawned waves of terrorism and extremism". The next appeal hearing is on March 7. Anan's campaign announced the suspension of work on their Facebook page out of fear for their employees' safety.

Geneina was later convicted of spreading false news and given a one-year suspended prison sentence.

"Compete with yourself", Gamal Eid, a prominent Egyptian rights lawyer, said on Twitter, addressing Mr. Sisi. "We wanted a true competition".

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Anan's candidacy coincided with a moment of unusual flux in the top ranks of Egypt's security services.

He has also presided over a massive crackdown against the Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters, which has since been extended to secular opponents and young activists who were at the forefront of the 2011 revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak. Three months earlier, el-Sissi dismissed his army chief in similarly unexplained circumstances.

Anan's announcement that he planned to run for the president came just hours after Sisi publicly confirmed he would seek a second term in the election.

"I've heard that he consulted with some other retired officers but not with active-duty leaders", said Michael Wahid Hanna, an analyst with the Century Foundation.

"The way the state dealt with Anan is of greater concern than whether his bid was actually a violation of military law", said Mr Ali's campaign spokesman Amr Abdel Rahman.

"We've reached a state of madness in Egypt", said Al-Shal, the office manager. "But in terms of outward-facing decisions, el-Sissi and the regime still exert top-level control".

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