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Leading opposition figure sues Sisi over Egyptian islands

Hamdeen Sabahi claims to have documents that prove the Red Sea islands are Egypt's property and cannot be transferred to Saudi
Sabahi leaves a police station after completing procedures as part of his 2014 run for president (AFP)

An opposition politician in Egypt has launched legal proceedings against President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi over his decision to hand sovereignty of two Red Sea islands over to Saudi Arabia.

Hamdeen Sabahi, the only candidate to run against Sisi in the 2014 presidential elections, on Tuesday submitted a 10-page complaint to an administrative court in Cairo over the controversial deal.

“The islands are part of our national right, as evidenced by a number of documents,” the lawyer wrote in his complaint, part of which he posted on his Facebook page on Tuesday.

“The constitution of this country does not allow these national rights to be violated.”

Many Egyptians have reacted with anger to a deal widely seen to relinquish control of two strategic islands, Tiran and Sanafir, over to Saudi Arabia.

Another lawyer and opposition activist, Khalid Ali, has already launched judicial proceedings against the deal.

President Sisi insisted in a televised speech last Wednesday that the islands, whose ownership has been disputed between Egypt and Saudi Arabia for over a century, were rightfully Saudi.

“We did not waive our rights – we gave Saudi Arabia its right,” he said.

Sabahi's attempt to stop the deal going ahead includes documents that he claims “prove Egypt's historical right to these two islands”.

Sabahi has spoken out strongly against the deal, which was announced during a visit by King Salman of Saudi Arabia to Egypt on 10 April.

The opposition politician called on Egyptians to join illegal street protests against the deal last Friday, and has since demanded the release of at least 25 people who were detained during the mass demonstrations for violating Egypt's strict law against protest without a police permit.