Egypt’s military prosecutor has issued a 15-day detention order to Armed Forces Colonel Ahmed Konsowa, who announced his intention to run in Egypt’s 2018 presidential elections on November 29 in an online video.
Rasha Safwat, Konsowa’s wife, told Mada Masr that she was reassured by her husband’s colleagues that he is being “treated well.” However, she says that she has not been allowed to visit him in detention.
Konsowa was called in for interrogation and subsequently detained on Saturday, after the military prosecution issued a warrant for his arrest. He now faces charges of publishing a video in which he espoused his political views and violating military code and procedure, Assad Heikal, the officer’s lawyer, told Mada Masr.
According to Safwat, several hours after the presidential hopeful left for his office on Saturday morning, “the military prosecutor called his lawyer to ask him to attend the interrogation.”
Konsowa, who works at the Armed Forces Engineering Authority’s Department of Military works, issued several statements on November 29 outlining the justification for his presidential bid and stating that he supports the “January 25 and June 30 revolutions.” In the 22-minute YouTube video attached to the Facebook posts, Konsowa addressed the camera while wearing his military uniform.
According to Konsowa, he has attempted to resign from his military post countless times since March 2014 — a decision he said was spurred by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s announcement of his candidacy in the 2014 presidential elections — but has been impeded by what he called bureaucratic red tape.
“Until this day my resignation has not been accepted,” he said.
Konsowa asserted that he has filed 11 lawsuits since 2014 against various Egyptian officials, include the president, the prime minister, the defense minister and the speaker of Parliament, among others, in an attempt to have his resignation accepted. At least two of the lawsuits are ongoing, one of which is before the State Council and the other is before the Supreme Constitutional Court.
Safwat told Mada Masr that her husband “always maintained his pride in his work in the Armed Forces. He has served for around 20 years, all of which has been honorable service, according to the testimony of his superiors.”
In his Facebook statement the colonel justified his decision to announce his intention to run while wearing his military uniform by recalling that other candidates have done so in the past. He stated that his inability to resign from the military has meant he is unable to take off his uniform, adding, “I am not a rebel, a dissident or disobedient of military commands. I am proud of my work and will continue to do it as well as I can until this unlawful legal status is changed.”
Although the 2018 presidential race has not officially started, three potential candidates have announced their intention to run: Konsowa, Mubarak-era prime minister and former Aviation Minister Ahmed Shafiq and rights lawyer Khaled Ali.
Several days after Shafiq announced his candidacy on November 29, he was deported from the United Arab Emirates, where he has resided since 2012. Immediately following his initial announcement, Shafiq published a video in which he claimed that he had been prevented from leaving the UAE “for reasons I don’t understand.” However, Emirati authorities denied Shafiq’s claim, and subsequently told him he had to leave for Cairo.
His whereabouts are now unknown, and Shafiq’s daughter Amira told Mada Masr on Sunday morning that his family and lawyer have not been able to contact him since he boarded the flight to Cairo on Saturday.
“It is utterly untrue that Shafiq went to the airport by his own will or that he was made to believe that he would be traveling to any country other than Egypt,” she said.
Shafiq previously ran in the 2012 presidential elections, and narrowly lost to ousted President Mohamed Morsi.
Rights lawyer and opposition figure Khaled Ali also announced intention to run for presidency on November 6. His candidacy, however, is contingent on a number of factors, including his appeal against a three-month prison sentence on charges of public indecency.
The case was brought against Ali for allegedly making an obscene hand gesture while celebrating the Supreme Administrative Court’s January decision to annul a maritime border agreement conceding the islands of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia.
Responding to reporters’ questions about the case and the possibility that, if convicted, he might be barred from running, he said, “I am hopeful I will be rightfully acquitted. Only one authority may decide whether this conviction makes me ineligible to run, and that is the National Elections Authority.”
Although Sisi is entitled by the constitution to run for a second term, he has not yet officially announced his position in the upcoming race.