A move to exclude some of the more divisive contenders from Egypt’s presidential election may help moderate candidates seen as better able to forge the consensus many believe can foster a peaceful transition to democracy. Two prominent Islamists – one a hardline Salafi sheikh, the other the Muslim Brotherhood’s official nominee – as well as ousted President Hosni Mubarak’s spy chief were battling to stay in the running on Monday as a deadline approached for them to appeal against disqualification by the state election committee. All three had put their names forward late in the process in a way that reinforced an impression in recent weeks that the shaky temporary consensus of necessity between an increasingly assertive Islamist bloc and the generals ruling Egypt since Mubarak’s overthrow 14 months ago was breaking down.
Their exclusion, if confirmed by the election committee on Tuesday, may hand the initiative to less polarizing figures like Amr Moussa, a former foreign minister and Arab League chief, and moderate Islamist Abdel Moneim Abol Fotouh, who was ejected from the Brotherhood after going it alone to seek the presidency. “The disqualifications of the most controversial candidates would certainly ease tension among political forces,” said Mustapha al-Sayyid, political science professor at Cairo University. “The other top candidates have good relations with all those forces.”
Though polling is a far from exact science in a nation of 80 million that is new to democracy, one opinion sounding in March – before some of the newly barred candidates were in the field – put Moussa as frontrunner. Much could change in the five weeks left until the first round of voting, but such polls are grounds for Moussa and other centrist figures to take hope.
Full Article: Candidate bans may ease rancor of Egypt vote | Reuters.