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Egypt's opposition tells EU leaders not to attend Sisi's summit

A summit in Sharm el-Sheikh is set to be well attended, despite a spate of recent executions in Egypt
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) poses with Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi at the 55th Munich Security Conference in Munich, southern Germany, on February 16 2019 (AFP)

A group of Egyptian opposition leaders in exile urged European leaders to boycott a summit with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi after his country executed 15 political prisoners in a span of a few weeks despite pleas by rights groups.

The EU-League of Arab States (LAS) summit is due to be held in the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh on 24-25 February, bringing together heads of state from both sides to discuss issues including migration, security and multilateral trade.

Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, will co-chair a meeting with Sisi representing the EU, along with  Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, according to a statement by the council.

The group of Egyptian opposition figures and activists include human rights advocate and former political prisoner Mohamed Soltan; lawyer and human rights defender, Nevine Melek; former Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, Amr Darrag; Ayman Nour, leader of the Ghad al-Thawra Party; TV anchor Hamza Zawbaa; political activist Magda Refaa; Mohamed Mahsoob, former Minister of Parliamentary and Legal Affairs; Tarek El-Zomor, former Chairman of Al-Benaa Wa al-Tanmya Party; and Yehia Hamed, former Minister of Investment.

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In three letters addressed to British Prime Minister Theresa May, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, and members of the EU Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights, the activists called on European leaders to reconsider attending the summit and to exercise pressure on Sisi to stop further executions.

The group pointed out that Egypt has recently executed nine political prisoners who were “falsely convicted” of killing former prosecutor general Hisham Barakat.

It warned that executions are “set to become a weekly event” as more than 50 political prisoners are currently on death row.

“The international community are seemingly happy to openly back a despotic regime while remaining deathly silent to acts of murder. They are emboldening and indeed legitimising the horrific acts of a dictator,” the activists said.

Egyptian authorities executed 15 political prisoners in February after trials that were widely condemned by international rights groups as ‘unfair’ and based on testimonies extracted under torture.

Nine men were executed on Wednesday despite appeals by Amnesty International to stop the hangings.

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