Egypt’s military arrested its former chief of staff on Tuesday for planning to run in the upcoming presidential elections against Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi.
Sami Anan was the last challenger seen as a potential threat to President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi, himself a former military chief, whose re-election is considered almost certain.
Anan was accused of inciting against the armed forces and forgery, in what appeared to be false charges to push him out of the race.
Dr Mahmoud Refaat, a spokesman for Anan’s campaign abroad said: “I hold the regime of Abdel Fatah el-Sisi entirely responsible for his wellbeing.
“Yesterday 30 members of the campaign were also arrested as well as some of their family members.
“It’s not known where any of them are being held.”
Anan is the second former high-ranking official to be prevented from running against Sisi, who declared he would run for a second term late last week.
His arrest follows the aborted candidacy of former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq, previously the primary challenger to Sisi.
Shafiq was deported from the United Arab Emirates after declaring his intention to run, and held incommunicado for 24 hours.
He withdrew from the race at the beginning of January, saying that he was not “the ideal person to lead the state’s affairs”.
Anwar el-Sadat, the nephew of Egypt’s former president, declined to run last week citing a political environment hostile to “genuine competition” and fearing attacks on his supporters.
El-Sisi has led a crackdown on dissidents while attempting to enact tough economic reforms – tied to a $12bn (£8.6bn) International Monetary Fund loan – that have squeezed many Egyptians.