Egypt blocks key candidates
Egyptian Salafi presidential candidate Hazem Abu Ismail (L), Khairat al-Shater (R), the presidential candidate of the country’s Muslim Brotherhood, and Egyptian ex-spy chief Omar Suleiman are all disqualified from running for presidential elections. AFP photo
The race for the Egyptian presidency took a dramatic turn when the election commission disqualified 10 presidential hopefuls, including Hosni Mubarak’s spy chief, a Muslim Brotherhood candidate and a Salafi preacher on April 14.
Farouk Sultan, the head of the Supreme Presidential Election Commission that was appointed by Egypt’s military rulers to oversee the vote, said that those barred from the contest included Mubarak-era strongman Omar Suleiman, Muslim Brotherhood chief strategist Khairat al-Shater and hard-line Islamist preacher Hazem Abu Ismail.
Commission official Tarek Abul Atta told Agence France-Presse that Suleiman had been disqualified because he failed to gather enough endorsements from 15 provinces as required under the law. Al- Shater, who was released from prison in March last year, was barred because due to a law stating that candidates can only run in elections six years after being released or pardoned, Abul Atta said. Abu Ismail was removed from the race because his mother holds another nationality, violating election rules which state all candidates, their parents and their wives must have only Egyptian citizenship.
Disqualified candidates have 48 hours to appeal the decision, according to election rules. Abu Ismail’s lawyer, Nizar Ghorab, told Reuters he expected “a major crisis” in the next few hours. Murad Mohammed Ali, spokesman for al-Shater, said he would challenge the election commission’s decision. He called the decision “very dangerous” and said it sends the message that “there was no revolution in Egypt,” according to the Associated Press.
Army ruler to meet politicians
Last week the Brotherhood fielded the head of its political arm, Mohammed Morsi, as a back-up candidate fearing that al-Shater would be disqualified. The final list of candidates will be announced on April 26. Thirteen others were approved for candidacy, including former Arab League chief Amr Moussa, moderate Islamist Abdel-Moneim Abolfotoh and former prime minister and Mubarak era minister Ahmed Shafiq, according to Sultan.
Egypt’s military ruler was scheduled to hold talks with political leaders yesterday to discuss the crisis. Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi was expected to meet with the heads of political parties and groups to discuss major developments five weeks ahead of the presidential election, the state-owned Al-Akhbar reported. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) will also examine a law passed by parliament that would ban members of the former regime from standing for office.