Egypt’s political transition was pitched into uncertainty on Sunday when a draft constitution was amended to allow a presidential election to be held before parliamentary polls, indicating a potential change in the army’s roadmap. The roadmap unveiled when Islamist President Mohamed Morsi was ousted in July said a parliamentary election should take place before the presidential one. But the draft finalized on Sunday by the 50-member constituent assembly avoids saying which vote should happen first, leaving the decision up to President Adly Mansour. “Now we have approved the draft,” Amr Mussa, the head of the 50-member constitution-drafting panel, announced on live television. “The draft will be given to (interim president) Adly Mansour on Tuesday,” he said, adding: “Long live Egypt.” The draft also says the “election procedures” must start within six months of the constitution’s ratification, meaning Egypt may not have an elected president and parliament until the second half of next year.
The secretary general of the Presidential Elections Commission has denied rumors that Ahmed Shafiq garnered the most votes in the first round of the election held last week. “The counting is not yet complete,” Hatem Bagato told the website of the state-run newspaper Al-Ahram on Sunday, saying that the final results would not be announced before considering the five appeals submitted by presidential candidates. On Sunday, the election commission began to review the complaints over the poll, which has left Egyptians with a runoff choice between an Islamist apparatchik, Mohamed Morsy, and throwback candidate from the Hosni Mubarak era, Ahmed Shafiq. Both contenders seek to claim the mantle of the 25 January revolution, and are appealing to the many Egyptians who voted for more centrist figures in the first round.
Egyptians went to the polls Wednesday to choose their first freely elected president in a vote that could end 15 chaotic months of military rule and define the future of political Islam. It was a new climax in a cascade of scenes that would have been unthinkable just two years ago, when election days meant that state television would film former President Hosni Mubarak walking a red carpet to his special polling place in a predictably fraudulent plebiscite. But on Wednesday, millions of Egyptians waited patiently in long lines, often holding scraps of cardboard against the desert sun, and debated with their neighbors over which of the five leading contenders most deserved their vote. “It is like honey to my heart,” said Mohamed Mustafa Seif, 36, an accountant voting in downtown Cairo. “For the first time in my life, I feel like I have a role to play. My vote could possibly make a difference.”
Egypt’s first post-revolution presidential poll will technically begin on Friday, as millions of Egyptians living abroad begin casting ballots for Egypt’s next head of state. Egyptians residing overseas, who number between five and six million, will cast votes for one of 13 approved candidates in Egypt’s first presidential election since the ouster early last year of longstanding president Hosni Mubarak. Many analysts say that Egyptian expatriates were not given enough time to study the candidates’ various electoral programmes, noting that they would begin voting only 12 days after the official launch of presidential campaigning. Many expats, meanwhile, are finding it difficult to follow candidates’ respective campaigns from abroad, or don’t possess the national identification cards required to cast ballots. After 30 years of Mubarak-era autocracy, during which most national elections were rigged, fair and democratic elections are a novelty for Egypt. The idea that their voices will actually count has stirred up strong feelings in many Egyptians, who espouse opinions as diverse as the candidates they are expected to vote for. And, according to various Ahram Online surveys, Egyptians living abroad are no different.
A panel of fundamentalist Islamic clerics on Wednesday endorsed the candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood for president of Egypt, an attempt to prevent a split of the conservative Muslim voters. In another twist, Egypt’s election commission late Wednesday reinstated a candidate, a former regime official it disqualified just a day earlier, scrambling the projected voting even more. The ultraconservative endorsement boosted the Brotherhood candidate, Mohammed Morsi, who faces competition in next month’s election from a more moderate Islamist, Abdel-Moneim Abolfotoh, who broke ranks with the group. Support for Morsi came from the Jurisprudence Commission for Rights and Reform, a panel of clerics mostly from the ultraconservative Salafis and new Islamist parties, but also including a Brotherhood member. The decision was announced at a news conference in Cairo.
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 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.
Egypt’s electoral commission on Sunday said 23 people registered to run for the upcoming presidential elections, hours after the doors have officially closed for candidacy registrations. Each candidate is hoping to lead the Arab world’s most populous nation through a fragile transition following an uprising that toppled long-time president Hosni Mubarak last year. The candidates include former Arab League chief Amr Moussa, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Khairat el-Shater, former Brotherhood member Abdel Moneim Abul Fotouh and Mubarak’s last prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq. Former intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, a stalwart of the Mubarak regime and seen as close to the ruling military, registered less than half an hour before the 2:00 pm (1200 GMT) deadline. Suleiman. 74, announced he planned to run on Friday, saying overwhelming public pressure had aroused his sense of soldierly duty. He had needed to collect the signatures of 30,000 eligible voters by Sunday’s deadline in order to take part.
The Muslim Brotherhood might make a policy U-turn and contest May’s presidential election, senior members said on Wednesday, as the group had yet to see a name among the declared candidates it was prepared to back. The Brotherhood, which dominated the first parliamentary vote after Hosni Mubarak’s ouster last year, had said it would not run in what is billed as Egypt’s first free and fair presidential race. The first round of voting is on May 23-24. The group instead said it would endorse one of the other candidates running. Analysts said the Brotherhood did not want to run to avoid alienating those in the electorate who are wary about Islamists sweeping the new political scene. But the Brotherhood has yet to declare support for any of the candidates who have lined up so far and who include Amr Moussa, a former Arab League chief who describes himself as a liberal nationalist, and Abdel Moneim Abol Fotoh, who was expelled from the Brotherhood when he defied the ban on running.
Presidential hopeful Amr Moussa has called on Egypt’s ruling military, the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF), to hand over power to an elected president before the end of April. Speaking at a press conference on Saturday, the former Arab League chief said Egypt is enduring unprecedented challenges that might “threaten the stability of the entire nation.” He was commenting on Wednesday’s deadly football clashes in Port Said which left around 73 dead and scores injured following an Egyptian Premier League game between Cairo giants Ahly and Masry.