A Cairo misdemeanour court has sentenced former presidential candidate and prominent opposition parliamentarian Ahmed Tantawy, his campaign manager Mohamed Aboul Dyar and 21 campaign staff to a year in prison, court officials told The National.
Although the court suspended the sentence for Tantawy – who has also been banned from running for parliament for five years – and Dyar in exchange for 20,000 Egyptian pounds ($600) each in bail, the remaining defendants will serve one year with hard labour, the officials said.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi won a third term in the December election.
Tantawy was charged in November with illegally circulating election materials to his supporters after dozens of them said that they were barred from entering Egypt’s notary offices to file their endorsements of his candidacy. He needed 25,000 endorsements to secure a place on the ticket.
The former parliamentarian, who heads the Nasserite Al Karama party, withdrew his bid for the presidency in October after failing to secure the necessary support.
In several controversial campaign speeches delivered outside notary offices in Egypt, Tantawy repeatedly accused his would-be opponent of abusing his power to prevent viable opponents from running.
An election commission convened by Mr El Sisi denied Tantawy’s claims and said that numerous investigations proved that there was no foul play. The commission’s findings were largely contrary to several social media testimonials from his supporters and accusations against the state from prominent opposition figures.
To sidestep what he called “corrupt practices” on the state’s part, Tantawy printed endorsement forms and circulated them to his supporters to fill out, which is illegal, according to an article in the country’s election law, court officials said.
The defendants were arrested in possession of more than 500 of the forged forms, officials said.
The shop owner who printed the forms has also been arrested, they said.