Former Egyptian presidential candidate Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, founder of the Strong Egypt Party, called to cancel his country's upcoming presidential elections, charging that anybody who donates money to opposition parties is detained on charges of terrorism or money laundering. In a prerecorded BBC Arabic interview, which was broadcast on February 15, Fotouh leveled harsh criticism against Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, saying that "when elections are held in keeping with [democratic] standards, they will give rise to a strong president, who is not susceptible to extortion, and who will not succumb to pressure" and that they would not be a "cooked up, fabricated, pathetic process to produce a president." On February 14, after giving several interviews to foreign media outlets, Aboul Fotouh was arrested on charges of terrorism.
TV Interviewer: "Why did you call to cancel the elections and not just boycott them?"
Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh: "I did call for a boycott, if they proceed with the elections. What our people in Egypt – including people in government – should know is that when we conduct truly democratic elections, in keeping with democratic standards, which are now heeded and respected by African countries... I'm not saying that we are like Germany or America. We are Africans. When elections are held in keeping with these standards, they will give rise to a strong president, who is not susceptible to extortion, and who will not succumb to pressure, because he will have the support of his people. It will not be a cooked up, fabricated, pathetic process to produce a president.
"The popularity of any regime or politician is measure by the ballot. All the talk about power delegated by the masses, and about the 33 million people of the June 30 revolution... Give us a break. The support for any political figure, head of state, or member of parliament is measured only in clean elections. It cannot be just any elections. Mubarak used to stuff the ballot boxes with rigged votes.
"Even if [Al-Sisi] collects two million signatures, they are meaningless in the eyes of the law and the constitution. His popularity and the people's support should be manifest in elections, following real democratic criteria. Some people complain that I appear on non-Egyptian TV channels, like Al-Jazeera TV or the BBC, which I respect very much. It's because I'm not allowed on any Egyptian TV channel, whether official or private. I am not even allowed on a medical show on Egyptian TV, let alone on a political show.
"Anyone conducting an election campaign, like I did in the past, needs money. Where is this money supposed to come from? From donors. The small business owners, who used to donate 5,000-10,000 Egyptian pounds to political parties, would not donate a single pound now. If the security services find out that someone donated a single pound to an opposition party, they detain him on charges of terrorism or money laundering, and they ban him from traveling. This has already happened. It's not just talk. It has happened to people who have nothing to do with religious organizations, who are not Muslim Brotherhood members, and have nothing to do with politics."