Auditors urge Sisi to respect Constitution after sacking Geneina

Some members of the Central Auditing Authority urged President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Saturday to respect the constitutional protection of auditors following the sacking of top auditor Hesham Geneina last week.

Egypt’s 2014 Constitution protects the work of supervisory bodies, including the Central Auditing Authority (CAA). “The authority is tasked with three levels of monitoring [of state institutions] like no other agency in Egypt. No institution, no matter how supreme it is, has the right to encroach upon the authority’s powers,” a statement by a group of auditors within the CAA asserted.

Sisi issued a decree on March 28, removing Geneina from his post and appointing his deputy Hesham Badawy in his place. This followed the passing of a new law in the summer of 2015, giving the president the right to remove the heads of oversight bodies from their previously protected positions if they pose a proven threat to national security or fail to carry out their duties. The law was one of several recently ratified by the newly-elected parliament.

The prosecution issued a statement claiming Geneina’s comments about corruption in Egypt are inaccurate, and that he would be interrogated about them. There were reports Geneina would appear before State Security Prosecution to this end.

Critics have asserted Sisi’s firing of Geneina is unconstitutional and violates bylaws protecting the head of the corruption body from state interference.

“We continue to uphold all constitutional guarantees given to the authority, out of respect for the will of the Egyptian people, and constitutional and legal respect for the position of the head of the authority,” the auditors’ statement added.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that Geneina had been placed under house arrest, quoting his lawyer Ali Taha, who said plainclothed policemen had been stationed outside this house. Geneina denied these reports in his first interview after his dismissal, with the privately owned Al-Tahrir newspaper, saying he lives a “normal life” with his family.

“Last Monday I was following up with my work when I found out about my dismissal from the media while I was at home,” he said, denying his referral to State Security for investigation. “I believe I performed my duty while heading the Central Auditing Authority,” he added, saying he wouldn’t appeal the decision to dismiss him.

A number of lawyers launched “The National Movement to Defend Hesham Geneina,” headed by Islamist lawyer Montasser al-Zayyat, asserting in a statement that they would “defend the man who faced corruption by not leaving him alone.”

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