The New York-based Human Rights watch [HRW] addressed on Monday sharp criticism towards Egyptian government for a series of “arbitrary” arrests of political opponents of President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi ahead of next month’s presidential election.
In a statement, HRW urged for the release of the 2012 presidential candidate and prominent Islamist detained earlier this month Abdel-Monaem Aboul Fotouh along with several party leaders who were also placed on a “terrorism list” that bans them from travel and freezes their assets over alleged links to the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood group.
The organization said that the intensifying of repression and the use of terrorism-related charges against ‘peaceful activists’ is considered a reflection of a government that aims to silence critical voices ahead of the election scheduled in March.
Recently, Egyptian security forces arrested former-Islamist presidential candidate and current head of the Strong Egypt Party, Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, for alleged ties with Egypt’s outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.
Aboul Fotouh was arrested from his home in New Cairo after the country’s state prosecution ordered his detention. According to the Strong Egypt Party, policemen dressed in civilian clothing approached his house with an arrest warrant.
He was taken away along with members of his party who were visiting him upon his return from London, where he gave an interview to Qatari owned Al-Jazeera and criticized state policies.
A prominent opposition figure, Aboul Fotouh led calls in January to boycott the upcoming presidential election, where al-Sisi is running against a sole competitor, Moussa Mostafa Moussa, who happens to be a staunch Sisi supporter.
Aboul Fotouh was among other political figures who issued a statement condemning the election, saying it had lost its legitimacy following recent repressive practices imposed by the government, including the sidelining and arrest of opponents.