Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi on Thursday cancelled a trip to South Africa to attend the African Union Summit after a group of lawyers filed an official legal request for his arrest.
The Egyptian president was supposed to arrive Friday in Johannesburg to lead his country’s delegation in the African summit titled “Enabling African Women,” which will take place on June 14 and 15.
“We believe Al-Sisi committed war crimes and crimes against humanity for the horrendous killings that resulted from the (2013) coup in Egypt,” attorney Yousha Tayoub of the Muslim Lawyers Association told VOC Drivetime on Monday.
A well-informed African diplomatic source told Anadolu Agency that Al-Sisi would not participate. The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, added that Egypt had officially informed the host country that Al-Sisi would not participate in the summit, and that PM Ibrahim Mehleb will lead the Egyptian delegation instead.
A former military commander, Al-Sisi is widely seen as the architect of the 2013 coup against President Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected president and a Muslim Brotherhood leader.
At the time, the South African government had vocally criticized Morsi’s ouster and the subsequent crackdown on political dissent waged by Egypt’s army-backed government.
Local advocacy group Media Review Network (MRN) believes the cancellation of Sisi’s South Africa visit was due to pressure from the MLA. The MLA wants the military leader to be charged with gross human rights violation, including the illegal detainment of South African citizen Shaykh Abdus Salaam Bassiouni.
“The decision by the MLA clearly struck fear into the heart of this tyrant. We are happy that a dictator will not set foot on this blessed land. We hope he knows there will always be opposition to him here in South Africa,” said MRN chairperson Zaakir Ahmed Mayet.
“We are aware that dictators themselves dabble in misinformation, so we should be prepared with other contingency plans.”
Mayet said a planned protest against the Sisi regime will still go ahead tomorrow outside the AU Summit. Activists are calling for the release of Shaykh Bassiouni, who is detained in a Cairo prison since December 2014. MEM/VOC