Cairo: An Egyptian opposition figure who ran in the presidential elections against Abdel-Fatah el-Sissi is suing the president over his decision to hand over two strategic Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia, according to a copy of a document obtained by The Associated Press today.
The announcement on the handover of the islands, which have been under Egypt's protectorate, sparked demonstrations last week.
Hamdeen Sabahi, the leader of the Egyptian Popular Current, submitted a 10-page complaint to an administrative court in Cairo over the case, calling for the deal to be suspended immediately.
The document claims the Tiran and Sanafir islands are "part of Egypt's sovereign control" and cannot be relinquished without a referendum. It also says the surrender of the two islands threatens Arab and Egyptian national security and also endangers Egypt's relations with Saudi Arabia.
Egypt's government says the islands at the mouth of the Gulf of Aqaba belong to Saudi Arabia, which asked Cairo in 1950 to protect them from Israel.
Tiran, the larger of the two islands and closer to Egypt's southern Sinai coast, is in the minds of many older Egyptians associated with their country's four wars against Israel, between 1948 and 1973, a time of nationalistic fervor and patriotism. More recently, Tiran has become a popular destination for tourists.
Sabahi was a member of parliament during ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak's years in office. He ran against el-Sissi in 2014 as the sole alternate candidate but was crushed in a landslide victory for the former military chief.
Separately, Khaled Ali, a prominent rights lawyer and a former presidential candidate in the 2012 vote that elected Islamist Mohammed Morsi, has filed a court case to demand that the Egyptian-Saudi agreement on the islands be annulled, allegedly because it violates Egypt's constitution.