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.
Egypt: In a confused political process, Egypt’s military steps back into role in new constitution | Daily Reporter
Egypt’s ruling military has inserted a new element of confusion even as Egypt tries to sort out turmoil surrounding its upcoming presidential elections. The generals now insist a new constitution be written before a new president is seated, a rushed timeframe that some fear may prolong their hold on power. For weeks, the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists sought to dominate the writing of the country’s first new constitution since the fall of President Hosni Mubarak more than a year ago. But after Islamist domination of the process sparked a backlash of criticism, the military has stepped back in to take a more direct role. The military’s new assertiveness has split the national debate. Some liberals have welcomed the military’s weight to counteract the increasing power of Islamists. Others, however, worry that the generals aim to continue their control over Egypt beyond their promised deadline for handing over power to a civilian president by the end of June.
Egypt’s Presidential Election Commission has deemed ten candidates unqualified for the upcoming election battle to succeed the toppled Hosni Mubarak. They include the surprise candidate from the Muslim Brotherhood, Khairat al-Shater; the more radical Islamist Hazem Salah Abu Ismail; and Omar Suleiman, Mubarak’s long time spymaster. Egyptian citizens are massing in Tahrir Square protesting anti-democratic manipulation by the Commission as well as protesting in various pockets of the square this or that candidate on the roster — or, as it were, not on the roster. Of those in the current public glare, however, Omar Suleiman is the person I find most fascinating and perhaps consequential.
Egypt’s election commission disqualified 10 presidential hopefuls, including Hosni Mubarak’s former spy chief and key Islamists, from running Saturday in a surprise decision that threatened to upend an already tumultuous race. Farouk Sultan, the head of the Supreme Presidential Election Commission, said that those barred from the race Mubarak-era strongman Omar Suleiman, Muslim Brotherhood chief strategist Khairat el-Shater and hard-line lawyer-turned-preacher Hazem Abu Ismail. He didn’t give a reason. The announcement came as a shock to many Egyptians as three of the 10 excluded were considered among the front-runners in a highly polarized race that has left the country divided into two strong camps: Islamists and former insiders from the ousted regime who are allegedly supported by the country’s ruling military council. The disqualified candidates have 48 hours to appeal the decision, according to election rules. The final list of candidates will be announced on April 26. Thirteen others had their candidacy approved, including former Arab League chief Amr Moussa, moderate Islamist Abdel-Moneim Abolfotoh and former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq, according to Sultan.
The Muslim Brotherhood said Sunday that it will fight the banning of its candidate for president that has thrown Egypt’s move toward elected civilian rule into disarray and threatens a return to massive street protests. “We do not accept it. We will challenge it,” said Gehad El-Haddad, a member of the steering committee for the Renaissance Project, which is at the heart of the Muslim Brotherhood’s presidential campaign. Ten presidential candidates were barred from contesting the nation’s top job in a decision announced Saturday by the presidential election commission, five weeks before the presidential race is set to begin in May. The decision comes at the tail end of a week marred by a slew of shocks and shifts — from a candidate jumble to a march on Tahrir Square— that persisted in shaking the pre-election period.
Egypt’s election commission rejected the appeals of three main contenders for president Tuesday, definitively removing the most polarizing candidates from the race to become the country’s first elected leader since the ouster of Hosni Mubarak. The disqualification of the three diminishes the chances that an Islamist candidate will win the presidency, but there are worries over the fallout from the decision, particularly from the supporters of one of the barred candidates, ultraconservative Islamist Hazem Abu Ismail. Around 2,000 Abu Ismail supporters had camped outside the commission’s headquarters since the previous day, demanding he be allowed to run. When the rejection was announced Tuesday evening, some of them threw stones at security and briefly scuffled with military police.
US President Barack Obama’s Facebook page has been swamped with comments from supporters of a candidate in Egypt’s presidential election. It follows news that Hazem Abu Ismail may be barred from the poll because one of his parents held dual nationality. Egypt’s electoral commission has said Mr Abu Ismail’s late mother became a naturalised US citizen in October 2006. But his supporters are calling on Mr Obama to support their claim that the immigration paperwork is fraudulent.