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Mar 8, 5:09 AM EST

Egypt condemns UN rights chief's criticism ahead of vote

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CAIRO (AP) -- Egypt's Foreign Ministry has strongly condemned the U.N. human rights chief's critical statements on what he described as the "pervasive climate of intimidation" in Egypt ahead of the presidential election later this month.

The ministry said in a statement late on Wednesday that the U.N. report includes "baseless allegations" that reflect "deep disregard" for Egypt's efforts to promote for human rights.

It also urged U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein "to stop attacking the Egyptian state."

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi is virtually certain to win another four-year term as he faces no serious challengers after a string of potential contenders withdrew under pressure or were arrested.

Egyptian authorities have intensified their crackdown on local and foreign media and silenced all public criticism ahead of the election.

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