CAIRO (MEMO) – Egypt
appears to have postponed carrying out death sentences on political opponents as pressure builds internally and the economy continues to spiral.
According to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed the consequences of the Ukraine conflict on the economy is one of the factors putting pressure on the government internally to clean up its image.
Eighty percent of Egypt’s wheat imports are from Ukraine and Russia which has pushed food prices up in a country that was already grappling with soaring living costs and austerity measures.
A source told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that when Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi called for a national political dialogue with the opposition during Ramadan he said that the execution of the death penalty may be postponed.
Observers think the pause on executions could be in preparation for U.S. President Joe Biden’s upcoming summit in Palestine and an attempt by the Egyptian government to quell international pressure to reform.
Earlier this year the Biden administration said it would cancel $130 million in military aid to Egypt because it had not made significant progress over human rights concerns.
The amount accounts for ten percent of a total $1.3 billion that Egypt receives annually from the U.S. At the time, human rights defenders called for a larger proportion to be withdrawn.
In March the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Ravina Shamdasani said she was “deeply concerned” by reports that seven people were executed in Egypt after trials that did not meet due process standards.
The UN called on Egypt to introduce a moratorium on the use of the death penalty, echoing calls made by human rights advocates for years.
The execution of the seven men, charged with joining a banned group, brought the number of executions under the Sisi regime to 105 people since he came to power in 2014.
Last year Egypt was the third highest executioner, according to Amnesty International.
In 2020 the number of executions was up threefold from the year before.
There are some 60,000 political prisoners in Egypt who are systematically tortured and held in squalid cells with little access to sunlight.