Egypt’s military suspended the constitution Wednesday and ordered new elections, ousting the country’s first freely elected president after he defied army demands to implement radical reforms or step down. Army chief of staff Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, speaking on national television in front of a row of prominent political and religious leaders, said the military was forced to act after President Mohammed Morsi had refused for weeks to set up a national reconciliation government. Al-Sisi said the chief judge of the constitutional court, backed by technical experts, would have full powers to run the country until the constitution is amended and new elections are held. Adli al-Mansour, the 67-year-old head of Egypt’s supreme constitutional court, is to be sworn in Thursday as interim president, state media reported. The army said the interim government would set the timetable for elections.
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.
Regardless of the widespread cacophony, the decision by Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood (EMB) to contest the presidency is calculated to stop a “quiet coup” by the country’s top brass. The revolution within the EMB is no less important than the January 25 uprising that ousted Mubarak. Despite wide criticism, the EMB along with its political arm – the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) – ups the ante on the presidential elections. By settling on an EMB presidential nominee, the Ikhwan have not only raised political stakes, but also the value of contestation, even if the nomination of Khairat al-Shater may not be devoid of risks. What is the crux of this new dynamic and what is the significance of al-Shater’s nomination?
The Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate for the Egyptian presidency has registered for the election set for late May. Khairat al-Shater, who announced he was running for the presidency less than a week ago, presented his papers to the electoral commission on Thursday. The party had previously said it would not field a candidate in the vote. Meanwhile, doubts were cast over the eligibility of Salafist contender Hazem Abu Ismail, after electoral officials said his mother was a US citizen. The ruling is likely to bar Mr Abu Ismail from the race, since a law made last year stipulates that a candidate, or his parents, may not have citizenship of any country other than Egypt.
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.