The Muslim Lawyers Association (MLA) will press ahead with their legal action against Abdel Fatah el Sisi, even if he does not visit South Africa next week. The Egyptian president was expeted to be part of the African Union Summit in Johannesburg, but cancelled his trip on Thursday. Some media reports have attributed this to the impact of the arrest warrant issued by the lawyers this week.
“It doesn’t change much, as he [Sisi] is one of many accused. I am quite the cynic about him not coming,” said attorney Yousha Tayob.
On Thursday, a well-informed African diplomatic source told Anadolu Agency that Sisi would not travel to South Africa. The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, added that Egypt had officially informed the host country that Sisi would not participate in the summit, and that PM Ibrahim Mehleb will lead the Egyptian delegation instead.
Irrespective, Tayob said they would still affect the arrest warrant for any Egyptian government official, deemed complicit in human right violations in Egypt.
“Everything by the will of Allah,” stated Tayob.
“If he decided not to come, it just postpones the arrest and we will continue batting on in this matter.”
The Egypt Docket was lodged with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI), the Hawks and SAPS in November 2013, on account of war crimes committed in the Egyptian coup on the 3 July 2013. Egypt’s military officers removed the country’s first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi, suspended the Constitution and installed an interim government presided over by a senior jurist, a move that was widely condemned by countries around the world.
The Media Review Network’s chairperson Zaakir Mayet believes the growing opposition in South Africa has had a profound impact on the Egyptian government. According to Mayet, the military leader had dispatched intelligence agents to South Africa a few weeks ago to determine the reception that he would receive when he arrives.
Locally, there have been vociferous calls against the Sisi regime from civil society organisations. Activists in Cape Town last week held a justice rally for Egypt and on Friday and in Johannesburg, the Free Bassiouni protest will go ahead on Friday and a pro-democracy protest is earmarked for Sunday. Added to these public protests is the much publicised Egypt Docket, which calls for the arrest of Sisi.
“This does create the circumstances where Sisi would be afraid. We need to ask the question what changed. Why is there this sudden movement by the Sisi regime to cancel this trip, two days after the announcement of the Egypt Docket? We cannot assume it [the Egypt Docket] had no impact. I believe the MLA has succeeded in striking fear into the heart of a tyrant and we call for further initiatives of this nature.” VOC (Tasneem Adams)