The panic has reached its climax in Egypt with the countdown to the upcoming presidential elections, which are scheduled to be held next June. Al-Sisi fears the polls and does not want to hold them. Given his low popularity rating, he wants to avoid asking the oppressed citizens to vote for him; they won’t do so as he is the one who has stopped them from having a dignified life.
Hence, Al-Sisi has been trying to amend the Constitution so that the presidential term is six years rather than four. All of the tame satellite networks promoted this and an MP actually proposed it in parliament. The Parliamentary Speaker was keen to discuss the issue, but then, suddenly, everything stopped after US President Donald Trump called Al-Sisi.
News and rumours suggested that Trump warned his Egyptian counterpart against making such a move. The MP disappeared along with the amendment and all talk of it ceased, including on satellite TV. It is as if nothing had happened, and then the idea of an “extra” candidate was floated, subject to conditions, of course; the said candidate would be someone chosen by the presidency and no one else would be able to stand in the election, even if this other candidate does not receive any votes. This condition has been mentioned specifically because there have been calls recently for a single civilian candidate — Al-Sisi is a military man — and the need to unify civil society in support.
Recently, Hamdeen Sabahi, the former “extra”, emerged after a long absence and announced his intention to run in next year’s elections. Despite this, he was not spared by the corrupt media, which began to talk about his daughter who faced a fraud case. They have kept this information in their bottom drawer ready to pull out whenever it was needed.
We have also seen Ambassador Dr Abdullah Al-Ashaal, a prominent political figure who criticised Egypt’s sale of the Tiran and Sanafir Islands given their strategic importance to the country. He published a book about the ownership of the two islands, including documents which prove that they belong to Egypt and not Saudi Arabia. Al-Ashaal also criticised the government for giving up Nile water after signing an agreement with Ethiopia that deprives Egypt of its historical share, and published another book on the threat that Ethiopia’s Renaissance Dam poses to Egypt. He argued that it will lead to people in Egypt facing a water shortage in a few short years.
Of course, the government sought revenge against Dr Al-Ashaal in the same dirty ways that it has been employing against opponents since the time of the tyrant Gamal Abdel Nasser. The government slandered the man through its corrupt media and brought up a strange case from the courts which was filed against him by his married 30-year-old daughter, regarding his alleged emotional negligence towards her. This is the first case of its kind in an Egyptian court. A satellite channel even hosted his daughter and her lawyer in order for her to attack her father and defame him. It is a well-known fact that he divorced her mother many years ago and has had a new family for a long time, but this is the government’s cheap way of responding to critics like him; it has no other way of dealing with political opponents.
All of this has pushed Dr Al-Ashaal to break down and say, “I will not be running in the next elections; leave me alone and let me live.” This is how they oppress people with public character assassination. This is the work of the deep state, which has been ruling Egypt for over 60 years.
Furthermore, there is actually a more sinister motive for the timing of this, chosen as it was in order to cover up the fact that the police killed 10 innocent young men in a flat in Agouza, claiming that they were terrorists. This “exciting” election story was intended to distract the public and make them forget about the innocent blood being shed by the government, and so that they won’t start asking why these men were killed.
Character assassination and murder; it’s all in a day’s work for the deep state in Egypt.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.