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Islamist leader says he will not contest elections, as Egypt has become 'republic of fear'

A leading Egyptian Islamist and a former presidential candidate says an ongoing crackdown by the military-backed interim government has turned the country into a "republic of fear."

Abdel-Moneim Abolfotoh, who joined mass protests against the now-ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi last summer, reiterated his decision that he will not contest upcoming presidential elections expected for the spring, denouncing the vote as a "farce" since it will come amid "suppression."

Morsi was removed in a military coup in July that followed the mass protests.

"You created the republic of fear," roared Abolfotoh in a Sunday news conference.

Abolfotoh, who defected from Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood group, criticized the military for throwing its weight behind army chief Field Marshal Abdel-Fatah el-Sissi's likely presidential bid.

Abofotoh came in fourth in the 2012 presidential vote.