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Egypt jails former presidential hopeful for one year with labour

AN Egyptian court sentenced former presidential hopeful Ahmed Tantawy to one year in prison with labour on charges of forging election documents, and barred him from standing in elections for the next five years, his lawyer Khaled Ali said.

Tantawy was the most prominent politician to challenge President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as he sought a third term last year.

Tantawy halted his campaign saying state-linked groups had impeded him from gathering the required number of public endorsements to register as a candidate, and that dozens of his family members and allies had been arrested.

Authorities denied foul play and charged him with violations linked to his campaign’s move to distribute their own copies of endorsement forms.

Tantawy was found guilty of the charges in a lower court in February and given a suspended sentence that was upheld on Monday.

He was detained in court and transferred to a correctional facility, joining more than 20 members of his campaign who were also sentenced in the case, Ali said.

He was also ordered to pay a fine of 20,000 Egyptian pounds ($424) and barred from running in local, parliamentary or presidential elections for five years.

“This is a political liquidation and a targeting of the person of Ahmed Tantawy,” Rasha Qandeel, Tantawy’s wife and spokesperson for his political movement, told Reuters.

Ali said Tantawy had the right to appeal but that it could take up to two months to launch the appeal process.

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Sisi was declared winner of the December election with just under 90% of votes cast, securing a third term that runs to 2030.

Rights groups estimate that tens of thousands of people have been jailed for political dissent under Sisi. Egyptian officials have denied holding political prisoners.

By FARAH SAAFAN

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