Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood is to field its deputy chairman Khairat al-Shater as a candidate in the upcoming presidential election, the group’s party and supreme guide said on Saturday. “The Freedom and Justice Party will nominate Khairat al-Shater as a candidate for the presidency,” the FJP said on its Facebook page. The 61-year-old professor of engineering and business tycoon will be standing in the country’s first presidential election since a popular uprising ousted veteran leader Hosni Mubarak last year. The election is scheduled for May 23 and 24. The Brotherhood’s supreme guide, Mohammed Badie, confirmed Shater’s nomination at a news conference when he read out a brief statement from Shater, who was not present. “After it was decided to field my name in the presidential elections, I can only accept the decision of the Brotherhood. I will therefore resign from my position as deputy chairman,” Shater’s statement said.
The Muslim Brotherhood had repeatedly said it would not put forward a member for the election, but its leadership insists that Shater’s nomination is not an about turn, but a necessary measure in the face of developments. “There is a real threat to the revolution and to the democratic process,” said the Brotherhood’s secretary general, Mahmud Hussein.
But the decision to field Shater could draw criticism, particularly after the group expelled another member, Abdel Moneim Abol Fotouh, when he said he would run in spite of the Brotherhood’s pledge not to seek the presidency.