JOHANNESBURG – As Egypt’s presidential elections approach, potential opponents to incumbent President Abdel-Fatteh El Sisi are falling by the wayside, with the latest attack aimed at a leading member of the opposition campaign.
Reuters reported on Sunday that Hisham Genena, a former anti-corruption watchdog chief -- who had been working to elect former military chief-of-staff Lieutenant General Sami Anan, who is currently under arrest at a military prison – was attacked outside his home on Saturday in what his lawyer described as a failed kidnap attempt.
Anan was arrested by the military as he drove to his office last week after being accused of running for office without military permission.
As Genena left his home outside the capital, Cairo, he was stopped by a group of men in two cars who attacked him with knives and sticks.
Former Egypt's top auditor and a leading member of opposition campaign Hisham Genena is seen injured after an attack near his home in #Cairo, Egypt on Jan. 27, 2018. (@AlMasryAlYoum / Fadel Dawod) pic.twitter.com/SaiNkuzI6v— mohamed ali eddin (@M_Alieddin) January 27, 2018
The attackers were questioned by police shortly after the assault and Genena was taken to hospital for treatment of a bleeding eye and several fractures.
The Interior Ministry could not be immediately be reached for comment. However, Egypt has a history of thugs being hired and paid for by the authorities to attack political opponents, according to media reports.
Under former president and military man Hosni Mubarak, whose draconian rule helped spark the 2011 uprising in Egypt, protesters were attacked in the streets by men bused in to the capital in police vehicles, while opposition voters were sometimes attacked by knife-wielding men at polling stations.
Video has also circulated on social media showing the abuse of prisoners in Egyptian police stations, as well as the battered remains of those who died under interrogation while human rights organisations have long accused the Egyptian authorities of human rights abuses.
In 2016, Egypt’s chief auditor was sacked by Sisi after he claimed that government corruption had cost the country billions of dollars.
Sisi came to power on the back of a military coup in 2013, which overthrew the North African country’s first-ever democratically elected president, Muhammad Morsi, the leader of the banned Muslim Brotherhood.
Morsi is currently being held in prison on a number of charges, including some related to alleged espionage and conspiring with foreign groups.
A death sentence on charges relating to a mass jailbreak was overturned in November 2016.
Sisi's second term in office is believed to be a foregone conclusion after several other potential presidential contenders pulled out of the race.