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Egypt: Calls to boycott election may be efforts to 'overthrow regime'

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Sisi speaks during the Watan story conference in Cairo, Egypt on 17 January 2018 [Stringer/Apaimages]

Egypt's prosecutor general has begun an investigation into opposition figures who are boycotting the upcoming presidential elections over accusations they seek to "overthrow the regime".

Nabil Sadeq's office has reportedly referred a complaint against 13 individuals, made by lawyer Mohammad Hamid Salam, to the Giza prosecutor's office which will now examine the claims.

The complaint against the 13 individuals accuses them of "incitement against the state" and trying to destabilise the country.

The move follows a clamp down on opposition figures allowing a smooth win for President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi's second term.

A coalition of eight opposition parties and around 150 prominent pro-democracy figures announced a boycott of the elections last week.

The crackdown on the opposition and dissent has defined Al-Sisi's time in office since he headed a military coup which overthrew the country's first democratically-elected President Mohamed Morsi.

Read: The General has been shaken

The nephew of assassinated Egyptian leader Anwar Sadat, lawmaker Mohammad Anwar Sadat, has called for national dialogue and "real independent institutions" in order to "avoid escalations and clashes".

Sadat announced his intention to run but soon cancelled his decision following fears his supporters would be targeted.

According to the investigation, holding a press conference to call for a boycott besmirches the image of Egypt both internally and abroad.

According to Al-Sisi, the 26-28 March vote should be considered legitimate and the country's security and economic recovery should take precedence over political freedoms.

#SisiEra

Al-Sisi is the main contender for the title following several arrests of opposition figures and drop-outs as a result of pressure. A lesser-known politician, himself pro-Sisi, is currently running against him in order to avoid making the race a single candidate referendum.

The election will be held over three days in order to maximise voter turnout of a public who have already given up on the process. In poorer areas around the country, pro-government figures and businessmen have offered incentives of food and cash to push voters to register and vote for Al-Sisi.

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