Former Presidential Candidate Al-Tantawi arrested in Egypt for “electoral irregularities”


Published: 2024-05-27 17:42

Last Updated: 2024-07-12 20:32

Former Presidential Candidate Al-Tantawi arrested in Egypt for “electoral irregularities”
Former Presidential Candidate Al-Tantawi arrested in Egypt for “electoral irregularities”

Egyptian authorities arrested former presidential candidate Ahmed Al-Tantawi on Monday after an appeals court upheld a one-year prison sentence against him, his campaign manager, and 21 members of his campaign team.

Tantawi was charged with forging election documents and failing to obtain the necessary permissions from relevant authorities for his campaign activities in July 2023. The initial ruling in February 2024, which sentenced him to one year in prison, was upheld today by the appeals court, leading to his immediate arrest.

Tantawi had sought to challenge President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi in the latest presidential elections, an effort that was thwarted by what he described as systematic harassment and obstruction by the authorities.

In a bid to gather the required 25,000 endorsements from at least 15 of Egypt’s 27 governorates, Tantawi distributed unofficial forms for supporters to sign after being prevented from officially completing the forms in government offices. This act was deemed by the authorities as election fraud.

Despite his efforts, Tantawi only managed to collect 14,000 endorsements, falling short of the necessary number to qualify for the presidential race. He subsequently withdrew his candidacy before the December vote, citing continuous harassment. Sisi ultimately won the election in a landslide victory, securing 89.6 percent of the vote against three relatively unknown candidates.

Human rights groups, including the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF), have criticized the verdict and highlighted the barring of al-Tantawi from running in parliamentary elections for five years.

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused the Egyptian government of using repressive measures to eliminate potential challengers, citing the arrest of another prospective candidate, Hisham Kassem, as an example.

Egypt’s human rights record has been under scrutiny for years, with rights organizations estimating that tens of thousands of political prisoners are detained under harsh conditions. The arrest of Ahmed al-Tantawi is likely to draw further international condemnation and scrutiny over Egypt's treatment of political dissent and election processes.