Egypt lawmaker says parliament could sack him for criticism

CAIRO (AP) — An Egyptian opposition lawmaker said Wednesday that the country's parliament has referred him to an ethics committee for posting a video criticizing President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, the latest episode in a widening crackdown by authorities on dissent.

The lawmaker, Ahmed Tantawi, also told The Associated Press that security forces arrested a worker in his office and an unspecified number of friends on Cairo. He didn't elaborate.

The development comes after the parliament, stacked with el-Sissi supporters, on Tuesday moved against Tantawi, and referred him to an ethics committee, which could ultimately remove him from parliament.

The state-run MENA news agency also reported on the referral by lawmakers.

Tantawi's video had lobbied against constitutional amendments adopted earlier this year in a national referendum, enshrining that el-Sissi can stay in power until 2030.

On Tuesday's session, around 100 lawmakers called for disciplinary measures against Tantawi. Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel-Al said those criticizing the political leadership "have no place in Egypt and should go to another country."

"We are committed to protect the people. The nation, the leadership, the military and police are red lines," Abdel-Al was quoted as saying by MENA.

El-Sissi, who previously held the office of military chief, led the military's 2013 overthrow of the freely elected but divisive Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi, after protests against Morsi's his brief rule.

El-Sissi was elected president the following year and has since presided over an unprecedented crackdown on dissent. He was re-elected last year after all potentially serious challengers were jailed or pressured to exit the race.

Tantawi also criticized the government's economic reforms as hurting the poor and middle class the hardest. The reforms included floating the currency, substantial cuts in state subsidies on basic goods and the introduction of new taxes.

El-Sissi's reforms and improved security have improved economic indicators, winning praise from Cairo's Western backers but benefits are yet to filter down to ordinary Egyptians.