The undersigned human rights organizations denounce the escalating retaliatory practices against Egyptian politician and former presidential candidate Ahmed al-Tantawy and members of his electoral campaign. Al-Tantawy and 22 members of his campaign were recently referred to trial, in Case no. 16336 of 2023 (Matareya Misdemeanors, Cairo) in retaliation for exercising their legitimate right to political participation and public work. The organizations consider this trial as part of the Egyptian authorities’ systematic and continuous targeting of al-Tantawy and his campaign. Since the official announcement of beginning to receive candidates’ nomination documents, al-Tantawy’s supporters and campaign members have been persecuted through various means, resulting in the arrest of at least 128 members of the campaign, and the filing of terrorism-related charges against some of them
The undersigned demand the dismissal of all charges against al-Tantawy, his supporters, and members of his campaign, the release of those detained, and an end to the harassment against them. The current and ongoing retaliatory practices against political opponents are reminiscent of the 2018 presidential elections, when the Egyptian authorities prevented serious competitors of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi from running in the elections by imprisoning them or placing them under house arrest.
Al-Tantawy and his campaign manager, Mohamed Abo al-Diyar, face charges of inciting others to influence the conduct of the electoral process. According to the court referral order, what constituted this incitement was the provision, printing, and circulation of electoral process papers without the permission of the competent authority. The lawyers of al-Tantawy and al-Diywar have not been allowed to copy the referral order. The rest of the accused campaign members face charges of printing and circulating electoral process papers without the permission of the competent authority. These charges carry a penalty of imprisonment for a period of no less than one year, and the beneficiary candidate may also be punished by being banned from running in parliamentary elections for a period of five years, according to Article 65 of Law 45 of 2014, regulating the exercise of political rights. On 7 November, the court decided to postpone the trial session until 28 November.
Case no. 16336 can be traced back to Ahmed al-Tantawy’s 8 October call on his supporters to fill in popular endorsement forms, matching the presidential endorsement form. Al-Tantawy’s call was in reaction to his supporters facing widespread restrictions in public notary offices, which prevented them from issuing endorsements in his favor under the pretext of an online system malfunction supposedly lasting for days. The National Elections Authority denied the occurrence of these violations while failing to investigate them, which in turn has denied citizens their legal and constitutional right to choose and appoint their candidate, and undermined the legitimacy of presidential elections.
The authorities’ prevention of al-Tantawy from running for the presidency and their targeting of him and members of his election campaign is a reflection of the repressive policies and laws adopted over the past decade which have allowed the executive authority to control all state institutions and utilize them to suppress all forms of peaceful opposition. These range from the counter-terrorism law which is deployed to retaliate against the opposition, to legislation further undermining the independence of the judiciary and the National Elections Authority to guarantee an overwhelming victory for the current president. Thus all peaceful means of change and proposing and preparing political alternatives are preempted.
The undersigned organizations reaffirm the impossibility of holding genuine elections amid a repressive climate wherein the President of the Republic holds a monopoly on power, and the security services have infiltrated all state institutions. The upcoming elections in Egypt are neither free nor fair.
Egyptian Front for Human Rights
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
Committee for Justice
El Nadeem Center
Sinai Foundation for Human Rights