Tuesday, January 22, 2019
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Egypt's Sisi sworn in for second term in office

Human rights defenders have regularly accused the Egyptian president of violating freedoms and suppressing opponents.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has been sworn for a second four-year term in office as the country faces major economic and security challenges. 

Sisi took the oath on Saturday in front of members of his government, after winning 97 percent of valid votes in the March presidential election.

Sisi, who as army chief overthrew Egypt's first freely elected president, Mohamed Morsi, won his first term in 2014 with less than half of the eligible voters casting their ballot. The former military commander received 96.9 percent of the votes.

The elections were criticised as a one-man show with no credible opposition. At least six other candidates pulled out, were prosecuted or jailed.

The only other opponent who ran against Sisi was little-known Mousa Mostafa Mousa, who entered the race hours before the deadline and whose party had previously endorsed the president. 

Seven years after the January 2011 uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak's regime, Sisi will have two major challenges to tackle in his second term: security and economic recovery. 

Arrests and disappearances

Human rights defenders have regularly accused Sisi of violating public freedoms and suppressing his opponents, who, along with vocal members of civil society, have been arrested in recent months. 

Two of those arrested are the blogger and journalist, Wael Abbas, and Shadi Ghazali Harb, a youth leader during the 2011 revolution.

Hazim Abdelazim, who has described his decision to head the youth committee of Sisi's successful 2014 presidential bid as his "biggest mistake", has also been detained. 

"The path the Sisi government took has been linear - eliminating the public sphere, or the political space has always run alongside arrests of dissidents, activists and human rights advocates," said Fadi al-Qadi, a commentator on human rights in the Middle East and North Africa. 

"The truth is, no one is immune under Sisi ... these two incidents of arrests are probably meant to dismiss any thought that Sisi may tolerate certain types of dissent in Egypt - on the contrary, he does not," al-Qadi sad last week.

Bloggers Sherif Gaber and Shady Abuzaid, known for their YouTube and Facebook videos were also arrested this month. 

Last week, an Egyptian military court sentenced journalist and researcher Ismail Alexandrani to 10 years in prison. 

Alexandrani, an expert on armed groups in the Sinai Peninsula, was arrested in November 2015 and accused of belonging to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.

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