Egypt's electoral commission confirmed on Tuesday that 10 candidates have been barred from running for president, including Hosni Mubarak's ex-spy chief, Omar Suleiman, and two Islamists, adding drama to the country’s first free presidential poll.
REUTERS – Ten Egyptian presidential candidates, including Hosni Mubarak’s spy chief, a Muslim Brotherhood leader and an Islamist preacher, lost appeals on Tuesday against disqualification from the race, shaking the political landscape weeks before the historic vote.
The disqualifications of top Mubarak aide Omar Suleiman, the Brotherhood’s Khairat al-Shater and Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, a popular preacher of the strict Islamist Salafi school, help the chances of secular liberals as well as other Islamists in the first free vote for a leader of the most populous Arab state.
The Brotherhood, the best organised political force in Egypt, is still in the race thanks to its nomination of Mohamed Mursi, the head of the group’s political party, as a back-up candidate. A Brotherhood spokesman confirmed Mursi would run if Shater’s disqualification was officially confirmed.
“All appeals have been rejected because nothing new was offered in the appeal requests,” a member of the judicial committee overseeing the vote told Reuters on condition of anonymity. The committee’s final decisions cannot be appealed in the courts.
The disqualifications add to the drama of a transition punctuated by spasms of violence and now mired in bitter political rivalries between once-banned Islamists, secular-minded reformists and remnants of the Mubarak order.
The electoral body said on Saturday it had disqualified 10 of the 23 candidates who had applied to run in the election, which starts in May and is the climax of the transition from military to civilian rule.
Those disqualified had 48 hours to appeal.
Abu Ismail was ruled out because his mother held U.S. citizenship, though he has fiercely denied this and has accused the authorities of conspiring against him. His blend of hardline Islam and revolutionary zeal has won him an enthusiastic following.
Suleiman, Mubarak’s deputy in his last days in power, had been ruled out because he had too few of the voter endorsements candidates were required to present, according to the state news agency.
Shater had been disqualified because of a past criminal conviction. Like many other Brotherhood leaders, Shater had spent time behind bars for his association with a group that was officially outlawed under the Mubarak administration.
The disqualified also include Ayman Nour, a liberal who came a distant second to Mubarak in the 2005 presidential election.
The election has a first round of voting on May 23 and 24, and is expected to go to a run-off in June between the top two candidates. The ruling military council is due to hand power to the new president on July 1.
Other leading candidates include Amr Moussa, the ex-Arab League secretary general, and Abdel Moneim Abol Fotouh, who was expelled from the Muslim Brotherhood last year when he defied its orders by deciding to run.
Date created : 2012-04-17