US Senator John McCain has harshly criticized Egypt’s President Fattah al-Sisi and his regime for suffocating the dreams of millions of Egyptians following the January 2011 revolution with arrests of thousands of human rights activists alongside threats to political opponents.
“Seven years ago this week, the Egyptian people inspired the world with their nonviolent revolution that famously called for bread, freedom and social equality. The movement encouraged all those who seek democracy and freedom,” McCain said in a statement marking the 7th anniversary of 25 January revolution which removed autocratic leader Hosni Mubarak.
“Over the past few years, we have witnessed Egypt lurch dangerously backwards. President Sisi’s unprecedented crackdown on political activism and fundamental human rights has led to the imprisonment of tens of thousands of dissidents, including 19 American citizens and nearly 3,500 young people,” the US politician added.
Millions of Egyptian on January 25 2011 took to the streets to demand the departure of President Mubarak and his regime that ruled the North African country for two decades.
Seven years on, Egyptians are still in quest of a new era with millions still believing Mubarak’s era was better as dissidents, outspoken journalists and right activists currently live under the shackles of the al-Sisi’s regime that has rolled back the democratic gains achieved after the revolution.
NGOs have seen their activities significantly reduced or completely shuttered down over government claims that they receive foreign funds to destabilize the country.
“Government censorship of the media and a draconian law governing NGOs have suffocated the country’s once promising civil society,” the Senator protested.
“Egyptian prisons are rampant with abuse and torture.”
McCain’s remarks came few weeks before the March unchallenged presidential elections in which most serious opponents to the incumbent president have been forced to pull out or even detained before candidacy registration to start Saturday.
Last potential challenger, Khaled Ali, a human rights lawyer, announced Wednesday his withdrawal from the presidential race.
Early this week, Sami Anan, a former Egyptian army Chief of Staff also ruled himself out after being accused of breaking the law by running for office without permission. His campaign team said he has been detained.
Last week, Mohamed Anwar Sadat, a nephew of the late President of the same name, also renounced to run saying that the climate was not propitious for free elections.
Al-Sisi’s potential toughest challenger, Ahmed Shafiq, Mubarak’s last Prime and former army general early this month bowed out after he learnt that a smear campaign was being prepared against him by the al-Sisi regime.
In front of the growing concerns taking place before what he called ‘important opportunity’, the former US Presidential candidate urged President al-Sisi to honor “commitment to genuine political reform and respect for human rights.”
“The only way to achieve lasting peace and security in Egypt is to create accountable, democratic institutions that give all Egyptian citizens a stake in the future of their nation,” he added.