Egypt tensions rise with Mubarak’s PM candidacy

Egypt tensions rise with Mubarak’s PM candidacy

ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
Egypt tensions rise with Mubarak’s PM candidacy

Followers of Egyptian Muslim cleric and disqualified candidate for the presidency Hazem Abu Ismail protest in Tahrir Square. Egypt’s election commission releases a final list of 13 candidates eligible to run in next month’s presidential elections. AP photo

Egypt’s election commission released yesterday a final list of 13 candidates eligible to run in next month’s presidential elections, bringing a close to one of the most turbulent chapters of the nation’s chaotic transition to civilian rule.

The list includes Ahmed Shafiq, the last prime minister to serve under ousted President Hosni Mubarak, who was disqualified and then reinstated over a 24-hour period this week. Also eligible to run are Mubarak’s longtime foreign minister and former Arab League chief, Amr Moussa, and Mohammed Morsi, who filled in for the Muslim Brotherhood’s disqualified first pick, Khairat al-Shater.

Shafiq, a former air force chief, had been ruled out under a law passed by the Islamist-led Parliament stripping political rights from top Mubarak-era figures. Shafiq appealed and the committee changed tack, drawing a rebuke from the Brotherhood. The elections are scheduled for May 23-24. If none of the 13 candidates wins more than 50 percent of the vote, a runoff will be held June 16-17 between the two candidates who receive the most votes in the first round. Moussa and Morsi are among the frontrunners, along with moderate Islamist candidate Abdel-Moneim Abolfotoh. The eligible candidates were among a total of 23 hopefuls before the commission disqualified 10 of them earlier this month.

‘Saving the Revolution’ rally
The 10 included Mubarak’s former spy chief, Omar Suleiman, al-Shater and ultraconservative Islamist Hazem Abu Ismail. Shafiq’s re-entry could split the anti-Islamist vote, making it a tougher race for Moussa. It will also anger Islamists and pro-democracy groups who fear Shafiq’s candidacy is a ploy by old regime figures who want to restore the tightly-controlled politics of the Mubarak era. The brotherhood and other groups have called for a demonstration today called “Saving the Revolution,” which is expected to focus anger on the army and those like Shafiq who are seen as trying to revive the political fortunes of Mubarak’s allies. Mahmoud Ghozlan, a spokesman for the brotherhood, said the election committee’s job was to apply the law and that its decision to restore Shafiq had damaged its credibility. “Its behavior is clearly characterized by confusion: today no, tomorrow yes – and the truth is this shakes its status and its position as a neutral committee,” Ghozlan said.

Compiled from AP and Reuters stories by the Daily News staff.