Egyptian security forces arrested former diplomat Maasoum Marzouk and two others in Cairo on Thursday ahead of planned protests calling for a referendum on President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi’s government.
Marzouk has been subject to widespread criticism by pro-government media and public figures for an initiative he proposed on 5 August calling for a popular referendum on the Sisi government.
The initiative also called for the release of all political prisoners, the formation of a transitional governing council to replace Sisi, and a ten-year ban on political candidacy for anyone who served in government or parliament in the past ten years.
If Egyptian authorities did not accept the initiative, he said, he would hold a “popular congress” in Tahrir Square on 31 August to “discuss next steps”.
Following the announcement of his initiative, a complaint was filed against Marzouk, with charges including “insulting the state” and “promoting chaos”.
Marzouk served as assistant foreign minister in the era of ousted president Hosni Mubarak, and as Egypt’s ambassador to Uganda, Finland and Estonia