World News

Egypt appoints new anti-corruption chief as predecessor faces trial

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt’s parliament approved on Sunday the appointment of a former prosecutor as the new anti-corruption chief, state news agency MENA said, less than a week after his predecessor went on trial accused of making up lies about the scale of the problem.

Parliament approved the appointment of Hisham Badawi as head of the Central Auditing Authority, Egypt’s main anti-corruption agency, with 329 of Egypt’s 596 deputies voting in his favour.

Badawi’s predecessor, Hisham Geneina, was sacked by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in March after he stirred controversy in a raft of interviews at the end of last year in which he claimed that government corruption had cost 600 billion Egyptian pounds ($67.6 billion)over a four-year period.

Sisi appointed a fact-finding commission that quickly concluded Geneina, a former judge, had misled the public. Geneina was charged this month with spreading false news about the cost of corruption. His trial began on Tuesday.

Sisi has made fighting graft a priority for his government as it struggles to rebuild an economy battered by political turmoil since the 2011 uprising that ended Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule.

Pro-government media accused Geneina of being an Islamist because was appointed by Sisi’s predecessor, Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood.

As military chief, Sisi ousted Mursi in 2013 after mass protests against his rule, outlawing the group and declaring it a terrorist organisation. He went on to win a presidential election in 2014 and launched a fierce crackdown on dissent, drawing widespread allegations of abuse by human rights groups.

The government says it follows the law and says cases of prisoner abuse are isolated incidents.

($1 = 8.8799 Egyptian pounds)

Reporting by Ahmed Aboulenein, Editing by Lin Noueihed and Ros Russell