12/28/2012, 00.00
EGYPT

Tensions rising in Egypt as opposition leaders are investigated for high treason

Hamdeen Sabahi, Amr Moussa and Mohammed ElBaradei, founders of the National Salvation Front, are accused of incitement against the state and betraying the ideals of the Revolution because they led mass protests against the Islamist constitution. Controversial Morsi-appointed Public Prosecutor Talaat Ibrahim Abdallah orders the inquiry.

Cairo (AsiaNews) - Egypt's public prosecutor, Talaat Ibrahim Abdallah, has ordered an inquiry into the leaders of the National Salvation Front, Hamdeen Sabahi, Amr Moussa and Mohammed ElBaradei. Appointed by President Mohammed Morsi, Abdallah wants the three opposition leaders, the last two former presidential candidates against Morsi, investigated on charges of "incitement" to overthrow the government and high treason. All three have led mass demonstrations against Mohammed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt's new Qur'an-based constitution. 

The legal action against the three main pro-democracy leaders comes amid criticism against the constitutional referendum, deemed invalid because of a low turnout (one third of the electorate) and numerous cases of electoral fraud by Islamists.

Unconcerned by the prevailing atmosphere of tensions, President Morsi signed the constitution on 26 December. Shortly, he will also announce the official date for new parliamentary elections.

The decision by the pro-Islamist prosecutor is further exacerbating tensions between Egyptians in favour of a secular state and defenders of a Sharia-based government, bringing the country that much closer to a civil war.

In an article published today al-Ahram online, some diplomats close to the opposition said that they had come under pressures from their superiors who want to silence all criticism against Morsi.

According to one diplomat, Egypt is now turning into a dictatorship. "I was summoned into the office of the assistant (foreign) minister," he said. The latter "asked me to be 'careful' and not to confuse my role as a diplomat with that of an activist." Another official "was told that his overt opposition to the president would undermine his chances to go a good post". (S.C)

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