CAIRO – Egypt’s National Electoral Authority said on Tuesday that a former military chief hoping to challenge incumbent Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in the March presidential election will not be on the ballot.
Sami Anan cannot be a candidate because he remains a member of the military, the authority said in comments relayed by official news agency MENA.
The announcement came hours after Anan was arrested and brought to the military prosecutor’s office in Cairo for questioning.
Anan, who served on Egypt’s ruling military council with Al-Sisi, was detained after being accused by the armed forces of committing irregularities last Friday when he announced his presidential candidacy.
“Great people of Egypt: Gen. Sami Anan has been arrested by al-Sisi and his group,” the candidate’s spokesman, Mahmoud Refaat, said in a post on Twitter, confirming later to EFE that Anan was taken to the military prosecutor’s office.
In announcing his candidacy, Anan made a “clear incitement against the armed forces to create disputes” between the army and the Egyptian people, the armed forces said prior to the candidate’s arrests.
The military also accused Anan of forging official documents to make it appear that he had left the military.
Anan’s campaign committee said in a statement that his presidential run would be suspended until further notice “in the interest of the safety of all citizens who dream of change.”
Previously, former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq had signaled a desire to participate in the elections only to back down weeks later, saying that he did not consider himself the “optimal person” to govern the country.
Another potential candidate, human rights lawyer Khaled Ali, is awaiting a judicial ruling on whether he made an “obscene gesture” in public, which will determine whether he is allowed to run for president.
Anan, the No. 2 officer in the military junta that governed Egypt following the departure of Hosni Mubarak in February 2011, was removed as army chief of staff in August 2012.
He went on to serve as an adviser to President Mohamed Morsi, but resigned from that post on July 1. 2013, two days before the military toppled the Muslim Brotherhood government.