Egypt: Presidential hopeful questioned by military

Bothaina Kamel is facing allegations of slandering an official and military.

Updated: May 15, 2011, 10:08 AM IST

Cairo: A candidate for president of Egypt was hauled in for questioning on Saturday because of her outspoken criticism of the nation’s military rulers and said she is facing allegations of slandering a top official and the military.

The military took control of Egypt’s government after President Hosni Mubarak after an 18-day popular uprising.

Bothaina Kamel, 48, a political activist and TV presenter, apparently ran afoul of the new rulers by charging that a military official insulted protesters gathered at Cairo’s Tahrir Square, charging that they were having illicit relations and accepting foreign funding.

During the popular uprising, men and women stayed overnight in the square.

The Military Council has called Parliamentary Elections for September, with a Presidential Election to follow. Kamel is the only woman to announce her candidacy for president so far.

Kamel, who is married to a Cabinet minister in the interim government, started her criticism on her Twitter account.

Then, on a May 10 TV program, she blasted the military official for his accusations of immoral activity by the protesters. “The solution is for the Army to return to barracks. The Army has no relation with politics,” she said. “All the signs we are seeing is that they want to stay in power.”

At that point the presenter ended the program, telling his viewers that he was ordered to stop the interview — and he announced that he was quitting.

Kamel said she was questioned for three hours on Saturday and then released.

Kamel said that she denied slandering the military but insisted that criticising the policies of the Military Council is “the right of every citizen”. She also said the military pledged to examine her complaints.

Egypt’s military rulers have been under pressure from a restless protest movement to investigate allegations of human rights abuses under their regime.

Many have criticised the military council for being slow to react to a crime wave and Muslim-Christian violence, and sluggishly handling the prosecution of former regime figures.

Bureau Report