Egypt arrests presidential candidate

The military accuses presidential candidate Sami Anan of breaching the army's rules

The announcement came a day after Egyptian authorities detained former army chief of staff Lieutenant General Sami Anan, the only other serious potential challenger to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. His arrest came soon after Egypt's military released a statement that was read on state television accusing him of seeking presidential office "without getting prior approval from the armed forces".

In his declaration of his intention to run in the upcoming elections, Anan said he wished to steer Egypt away from "wrong policies" that the current regime has adopted.

Sisi, who as military chief led the military coup against Egypt's first-ever democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi in 2013 and was elected president the following year, announced last week he will seek a second term in the election set for late March.

"Anan is among a growing number of candidates arrested or convicted on trumped up charges by the Egyptian authorities", the London-based rights group said in a statement.

"This goes far beyond these charges", said Mostafa Elshall, the director of Anan's office and a close friend, suggesting the measures were meant to deter Anan's presidential bid.

Mustafa Elshall, Anan's campaign manager, also reported the arrest on his Twitter account.

He is also accused of forging official documents that said he has completed his military service, and of inciting a rift between the Armed Forces and the Egyptian public.

Egypt was "hell-bent" on arresting and harassing anyone who stood against Sisi, Amnesty said.

"We urge the authorities in Egypt to ensure that the election campaign is conducted in a credible, inclusive, peaceful and participatory manner", United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in NY.

"The armed forces could not allow itself to ignore the blatant legal violations committed by the aforementioned, which constituted a gross breach of the rules and regulations governing the service of armed forces officers", said the statement.

With Mr Anan in detention and the withdrawal from the race last week of Mohammed Anwar Sadat, the last chance for a two man race rests with Khalid Ali, a 45-year-old human rights lawyer scheduled to announce the direction of his candidacy in Cairo on Wednesday evening.

Earlier this month, Ahmed Shafiq, former President Hosni Mubarak's last prime minister, withdrew his presidential candidacy saying he was "not the best choice for managing the affairs of state in the coming period".

His arrest now leaves only one other candidate, Khaled Aly, in the race against President Sisi.

Would-be candidates for the presidency must register with the National Elections Authority by January 29, but some have already stepped aside. Ali, himself, was fighting a court conviction for making a rude gesture that could have disqualified him.

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