Egypt: Doubts Over Free and Fair Polls

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Cairo — THE arrest and intimidation of potential candidates, opposition supporters and violations against independent media have cast doubt over credible elections in Egypt.

The restive North African nation of 96 million people will hold presidential polls on March 26-28 with Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, in power since 2014, seeking re-election.

Fattah el-Sisi, an army chief, lead a coalition that overthrew Mohamed Morsi from power and suspended the Egyptian constitution.

The presidential elections were meant to enable citizens renew the democratic legitimacy of their political leaders and to strengthen social cohesion.

Germany is the latest country to doubt the credibility of the outcome in the wake of el-Sisi's regime initiating a crackdown against opponents and the media.

"I fear that in Egypt the opportunities brought by free and fair elections are not being seized," Bärbel Kofler, Germany Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Foreign Office lamented.

Kofler call on the Egyptian state organs to end the repression of critics to enable all citizens to exercise their freedom of expression, assembly and the press.

"These are laid down in the Egyptian constitution," Kofler said.

The Committee to Protect Journalists bemoaned the authoritarian government has further clamped down on press freedom, issuing warnings to the media and arresting critical journalists on "false news" charges.

The Supreme Council for Media Regulation, a body set up in 2016 under a decree by el-Sisi, has banned four entertainment and satirical shows on "moral grounds."

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