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Last major challenger to Egypt's Sisi calls off…

Last major challenger to Egypt's Sisi calls off…

The Egyptian Armed Forces released on Tuesday a televised statement in which it asserted that the former chief of staff of the Armed Forces Sami Anan has not received the necessary permission from the army to run for the 2018 presidential elections. Under el-Sissi, links to the Brotherhood are grounds for prosecution.

The move by the military did not come as a complete surprise given that the powerful military establishment would have been loath to see two of its graduates slug it out in an election contest, regardless of the overwhelming odds in favour of Mr El Sisi.

"Sami Anan the presidential candidate has been arrested and yesterday 30 persons of his campaign [were also detained] by the al-Sisi regime", campaign spokesman Mahmoud Refaat tweeted in English. It said it was summoning him over the issue.

The decision comes only hours after the Supreme Committee of the Armed Forces (SCAF) in Egypt arrested Anan on accusations he had committed violations that "warrant official investigation". The next appeal hearing is scheduled for March 7.

Annan was also arrested by the military Tuesday, but his campaign made no mention of that.

He was taken to the Military Prosecutor's office in Cairo, according to his son and one of his lawyers, who were waiting outside the building.

"The armed forces could not allow itself to ignore the blatant legal violations committed by the aforementioned which constituted a gross breach of the rules and regulations governing the service of armed forces officers", said the statement.




Annan is now suspected of forging the required documents, but also of "inciting against the Egyptian army with the aim of driving a wedge between the armed forces and the Egyptian people".

Sisi has also introduced harsh austerity measures in the country after taking a large US$12 billion loan from International Monetary Fund. Sisi has also been accused of a brutal crackdown on dissent as many secular and Islamist activists who were part of the 2011 uprising are either killed or jailed.

Annan was seen as a long shot to win the election. Anan has been accused by some of trying to attract votes from Muslim Brotherhood supporters, particularly following his controversial appointment of Egypt's former top auditor Hisham Geneina as one of his running mates. Morsi then elevated el-Sissi to defense minister.

Anan, who served as armed forces chief of staff from 2005-2012, was the final high profile challenger to Sisi left in the race after a number of others dropped out, some citing intimidation by the authorities. In 2013, el-Sissi led the military's ouster of Morsi, amid massive protests of Brotherhood rule.

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.

Another would-be candidate was former lawmaker Mohammed Anwar Sadat, the nephew of the Egyptian leader who was assassinated in 1981.

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