Sisi political opponents arrested


Egyptian authorities arrested three leading opposition figures including a former senior diplomat who called for a referendum on President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s government, security sources said.

No specific charges were laid against the men, arrested on the orders of Egypt’s public prosecutor, sources said. Egypt’s interior ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Egyptian authorities jailed thousands of Sisi opponents and critics in recent years, including alleged Islamist militants and secular rights activists. Government says its actions are directed at terrorists and saboteurs trying to undermine the state.

Ex-diplomat and former ambassador, Masoum Marzouk, earlier this month called for a referendum on Sisi’s government, questioning its popularity in rare public criticism.

He said government’s term should end and parliament be dissolved if a majority of Egyptians gave it a vote of no confidence.

The others arrested were Raed Salama, a senior member of the opposition Dignity Party which Marzouk used to belong to, and academic Yahya Kazaz, who recently called for Sisi’s departure on his Facebook page, writing “resistance is the solution”.

Prior to Sisi’s landslide re-election in March challengers were jailed or pulled out of the race citing intimidation. Security forces detained several journalists and online critics in May.

Sisi supporters say the crackdown on dissent is needed to stabilise Egypt after a 2011 uprising and the unrest that followed, including an Islamist insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula that killed hundreds.

The former general became president in 2014, a year after he led the ousting of Islamist president Mohamed Mursi, Egypt’s first freely-elected head of state, after popular protests against his rule.

Mursi came to power after the 2011 uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak who was president for nearly 30 years.