Egypt’s presidential race starts to heat up

Egypt’s presidential race starts to heat up

Egypt’s presidential race starts to heat up

Supporters of Egyptian presidential candidate Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, a prominent Salafi, celebrate in front of a giant campaign banner in Cairo on March 30. AP photo

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood announced it was putting up a second presidential candidate for May elections in case their first choice was not allowed to stand, while Hosni Mubarak’s former intelligence chief Omar Suleiman began the application process on April 7 to enter Egypt’s presidential race.

The candidature of the Islamist group’s number two, Khayrat al-Shater, looked to be in doubt. Al-Shater was freed from prison in March 2011 after having been jailed by a military court for seven years on charges of terrorism and money laundering.

The Muslim Brotherhood said it was putting forward party chairman Mohammed Morsi as an “alternative candidate.” Separately, earlier April 7, the electoral commission said that Salafi politician Hazem Abu Ismail would probably be disqualified from running because his late mother was a U.S. citizen. In response to what it called a “massacre” of Islamist candidates, the ultra-conservative Gamaa Islamiya announced that it was nominating hardliner Safwat Hegazy to stand, the official news agency MENA reported.

To many of those who led the uprising, Suleiman’s reappearance is proof that a powerful security establishment is determined to reverse a transition to democratic rule before the army hands power to a civilian president.

Suleiman, long viewed as the power behind his ousted boss, said overwhelming popular demand prompted his decision to become a candidate. Like Mubarak, ousted in February 2011, Suleiman has kept far from the public gaze during the past year of turbulent military rule. The first round of the election is due to take place on May 23 and 24.

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