1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Egypt sentences presidential challenger to jail, hard labor

May 27, 2024

A one-year jail sentence against Ahmed Altantawy, who challenged President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi in elections last year, has been upheld. He is also barred from standing for election for five years.

Egyptian politician Ahmed Altantawy in a suit and tie
Ahmed Altantawy was just one of several political opponents that rights groups say President el-Sissi eliminated to secure reelectionImage: Ahmed Hasan/AFP

An Egyptian appeals court on Monday upheld the February conviction of opposition politician Ahmed Altantawy, meaning that he will serve a one-year jail sentence with hard labor.

Altantawy, who sought to challenge Egypt's strongman President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi in elections last year, was immediately taken into custody by authorities after the conviction was upheld.

Seen as the most serious challenger to Sissi in last year's vote although he ultimately did not run, Altantawy and 22 associates — whose convictions were also upheld by the court — were previously convicted of forging election documents.

Altantawy claimed government blocked him from collecting signatures

Now barred from running for office for five years, Altantawy suspended his campaign last year after claiming that state-linked groups had been blocking him from collecting signatures as well as arresting relatives and political allies — something the government denied before arresting him.

At issue were "popular endorsement forms" that Altantawy encouraged voters to fill out in support of him after numerous computer malfunctions and similar hurdles blocked him from collecting signatures.

Government authorities accused him of "circulating election-related papers without official authorization."

Sissi won 'landslide' after eliminating election challengers

Ultimately, Sissi was declared the winner by Egypt's National Election Authority, having reportedly won nearly 90% of the vote to secure a third term in office. That term expires in 2030.

Outside observers, such as the NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW), said the Sissi government had used, "an array of repressive tools to eliminate potential challengers." These included the jailing of opponents, such as Hisham Kassem.

Similarly, rights groups say tens of thousands of individuals have been jailed as political prisoners — many under brutal conditions — by the authoritarian former general Sissi. The Egyptian government denies this.

Altantawy's wife Rasha Qandeel decried Monday's court decision as "political liquidation."

Egypt in the age of el-Sissi

js/msh (AFP, AP, Reuters)