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Egypt military personnel need army approval to run in elections, according to new rules 

The Egyptian parliament [Anadolu Agency]
Egyptian parliament in session, 29 November 2016 [Anadolu Agency]

Egypt’s parliament has approved amendments that mean military personnel must have the army’s approval to run in the elections.

The regime tried to sell the bill as restricting military intervention in politics but critics say it is in fact the opposite encompassing even officers who have left the army.

Experts say the amendments mean either former or active military members have effectively been pushed out of the race and will not be able to stand against the current President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.

Any candidate that does stand in either presidency or parliamentary elections will have been approved by the military.

A former army chief himself, Al-Sisi became president in 2014, a year after a military coup which overthrew the democratically elected leader Mohamed Morsi.

Since then he has moved to consolidate power and destroy the opposition. He was re-elected in March 2018 with a staggering 97 per cent of the vote.

Last year a 90 per cent vote in favour of constitutional amendments meant he could stay in his position until 2030. Several weeks ago, an Egyptian MP suggested Al-Sisi should remain president for life.

READ: Egypt ICU doctor appears at prosecutor’s office after criticising the government

The Sisi regime has arrested, tortured and sentenced to death political prisoners who speak out against his iron fist rule and quashed the opposition.

Yesterday’s amendments also ban officers from speaking about sensitive information or revealing details of what occurred during their service, and from joining political parties without the military’s approval.

It also prohibits them from expressing political opinions and engaging in politics.

Several former army officers have been targeted after attempting to run against Al-Sisi, including Colonel Ahmed Konsowa, who was arrested after he announced he would run in the 2018 presidential elections.

Konsowa was sentenced in a military court to six years in prison.

Former air force commander and aviation minister Ahmed Shafiq also withdrew from running for the country’s presidency in 2018 and was placed under house arrest.

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Former army chief of the armed forced Sami Anan was imprisoned for almost two years in 2018 after announcing his candidacy in the elections and officers sympathetic to him were also detained.

The military has played a major role in Egyptian politics since the 2011 revolution when the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces ruled the country for a year.

Since the coup, Al-Sisi has empowered the army and increased its role in politics and economics giving the military extensive political leverage.

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