Egypt restricts retired army officers from running in elections

Egyptian President approves legal amendments that restrict retired army officers from running in elections without permission from military.

Elad Benari ,

Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi
Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi on Wednesday approved legal amendments that restrict retired army officers from running in elections without permission from the military, Reuters reported.

Critics of Sisi, a former army chief who was re-elected for a second term in 2018, say the amendments, passed by parliament this month, aim to curb any opposition from prominent former army generals. The government denies this.

The amendments bolster the role of the army by allowing it to offer an opinion on proposed constitutional amendments and bills related to political rights, elections and national security, according to the announcement.

The legal changes also make it obligatory for the defense minister to appoint a military adviser to the governors of each of Egypt's 27 provinces.

Previously, only serving army officers had been restricted from entering politics or standing for election without permission from the military.

"Officers on active service or those whose service has ended are not allowed to run for the presidential, parliamentary or local elections except after the approval of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces," the announcement said.

Sisi, who led the army's overthrow of Islamist president Mohammed Morsi in 2013 following mass protests against the Islamist leader's rule, was then elected as president in 2014.

He swept to another four years in office against in the country’s elections in March of 2018.

Last year, Egypt's parliament overwhelmingly approved constitutional amendments allowing Sisi to stay in power until 2030.

Former military chief-of-staff Sami Anan was arrested in early 2018 after he announced he would run in a presidential election against Sisi.The army said at the time of his arrest that Anan was called back to duty after retirement.

Anan's spokesman denied that he broke any laws. Anan was released from jail in December of 2019.

Anan had declared his candidacy after several prominent figures who had been seen as potential challengers to Sisi had already ruled themselves out.

Since Sisi took power, rights campaigners have regularly accused his government of abuses, including mass trials and torture as well as a clampdown on opposition and the media.

Under Sisi’s rule, authorities have launched a broad crackdown on dissidents, mostly from the Muslim Brotherhood, which was outlawed and designated a terrorist organization in Egypt in December of 2013.