Former Egyptian presidential hopeful to face trial on election forms charge

Ahmed Tantawy will go on trial along with 22 of his campaign staff

Supporters surround Ahmed Tantawy before a press conference called by opposition parties in Cairo last month. Reuters
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Ahmed Tantawy, a prominent Egyptian leftist politician who last month withdrew his bid to challenge President Abdel Fattah El Sisi in the country's upcoming presidential election, will face trial over accusations he illegally circulated endorsement forms to voters during his campaign.

Mr Tantawy's campaign manager Mohamed Aboul Deyar and 21 other campaign staff will also face trial over the charges, according to a list of defendants published on Tuesday by the independent Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms.

Egyptian security officials, speaking to The National on condition of anonymity, confirmed the charges.

The trial is scheduled for November 28, according to the list published by the commission.

The staunch critic of Mr El Sisi withdrew his bid for the presidency last month after managing to collect only 14,000 of the 25,000 endorsements needed from members of the public to qualify for a ticket.

Mr Tantawy and another presidential hopeful, Gamila Ismail, have accused authorities of not allowing their supporters to register their endorsements at notary offices across the country.

The election commission said it investigated the claims and found no irregularities.

After announcing his bid for the presidency earlier this year, Mr Tantawy, a former MP and leader of the Nasserite Al Karama Party, made impassioned speeches outside notary offices in a bid to have his supporters' endorsements accepted.

His supporters from all over the country posted videos on social media detailing how they were barred from filing their endorsements, with some reporting that they had been harassed by men stationed outside the notary offices.

Mr Tantawy asked his supporters to print out copies of their endorsement forms and file them at his office in person.

He revoked his request after repeated arrests of his campaign staff, 100 of whom were detained in the weeks before his withdrawal from the presidential race.

Mr El Sisi successfully filed his bid for the election last month after receiving 1.13 million endorsements and support from 424 members of parliament.

Ms Ismail, another popular opposition candidate and head of the leftist Al Dostour party, withdrew from the presidential race in October, a month after announcing her intention to run.

She said that her party’s high council had decided not to field a candidate for the presidency.

The election will begin with three days of overseas voting from December 1 before three days of polling in Egypt from December 10.

Updated: November 09, 2023, 11:23 AM