AFRICANGLOBE – Egypt was facing renewed political tensions on Thursday after three leading opposition figures, including a former head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog, were placed under investigation for allegedly plotting to topple Mohammed Morsi, the Islamist president.
A judge is to investigate Mohammed El-Baradei, the ex-head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, along with the former foreign minister and Arab League chairman, Amr Moussa, and Hamdeen Sabahi, a former presidential candidate, over accusations that they campaigned to unseat Mr Morsi during a recent outbreak of unrest.
The announcement by the new chief prosecutor, Taalat Ibrahim Abdallah, who was appointed by Mr Morsi last month, will heighten concerns that the president and his Muslim Brotherhood backers intend to scapegoat political opponents.
It comes two days after a controversial new constitution – denounced by the secularist opposition as a route to sharia law and discriminatory against minorities and women – was officially declared to have been approved in a referendum.
The probe results from a complaint filed by a lawyer following a wave of protest that swept across Egypt after Mr Morsi’s adoption last month of sweeping powers – later revoked – that would have put him beyond legal challenge.
While not necessarily leading to criminal charges, the investigation of an internationally respected figure like Mr El-Baradei – who for several years spearheaded the IAEA’s scrutiny of Iran’s nuclear programme – will raise concerns that Egypt is lurching towards Islamic authoritarianism.