Muslim Brotherhood Stands to Gain If Leading Islamist Is Forced Out of Egypt’s Presidential Race (CNS) CYBERCAST NEWS SERVICE) By Patrick Goodenough 04/06/12)
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(CNSNews.com) – Egypt’s historic presidential election campaign,
already thrown into disarray by the Muslim Brotherhood’s decision to
breach earlier pledges not to field a candidate, is now being roiled
by calls for another leading Islamist contender to withdraw over his
mother’s U.S. citizenship.
If Sheikh Hazem Abu Ismail, a candidate popular among hardline
Salafis, is forced to pull out, the chances of the Muslim
Brotherhood’s newly-announced presidential hopeful, Khairat el-
Shater, winning the election will be further strengthened.
Egypt’s election commission confirmed on Thursday that Ismail’s late
mother had held American citizenship – Ismail himself has repeatedly
denied it – but stopped short of declaring him disqualified. It plans
to vet candidates’ eligibility once the filing of applications to run
closes on Sunday.
Egyptian law requires presidential candidates, their parents and
spouses to be Egyptian citizens and to have never held any other
Meanwhile a third candidate, former spy chief Omar Suleiman – who
served briefly as vice president during the closing days of Hosni
Mubarak’s regime – left the race on Wednesday, further narrowing
voters’ options in the May election.
Ismail, who has run a high-profile campaign, pledged to implement
shari’a in Egypt and to annul the three decade-old peace treaty with
Israel. He has also been a strong critic of the ruling military
The independent Al-Masry al-Youm newspaper quoted some Ismail
supporters as alleging a conspiracy involving the Egyptian military
and U.S. government to produce fake U.S. citizenship papers as so
force his disqualification.
The candidate himself fanned the flames, saying in a statement on his
Facebook site, “There has been a well-orchestrated plan in play for a
long time. Many bodies used forces inside and outside the country to
subdue my presidential campaign,” according to the paper.
Alleging a political and media campaign against their favored
candidate, Salafists said they plan to protest in Cairo’s Tahrir
Square in support of Ismail on Friday.
An opinion poll by the Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic
Studies last month – before the Brotherhood’s al-Shater joined the
contest – found 22.7 percent support for Ismail and 9.3 percent
support for Suleiman, so their departure could see a full one-third
of potential votes redistributed.
The frontrunner in that poll was former foreign minister and Arab
League Secretary-General Amr Moussa, with 31.5 percent.
Two Islamist parties, the veteran Muslim Brotherhood and the smaller
Salafist Nour party, together dominate post-Mubarak Egypt’s political
institutions after recent elections. The Brotherhood controls the
largest number of seats in both chambers of parliament and in an
assembly that is drawing up Egypt’s new constitution.
Apart from al-Shater, Moussa and the possibly departing Ismail, other
presidential candidates include yet another Islamist, Abdel Moneim
Abouel Fotouh – who left the Muslim Brotherhood when he joined the
race, since the Brotherhood at that time said it was not
participating. He scored 8.3 percent in the Al-Ahram poll.
Also running is Ahmed Shafiq, who served briefly as Mubarak’s prime
minister during the upheavals early last year (10.2 percent in the Al-
Ahram poll); Hamdeen Sabahi, leader of a Nasserite party (five
percent in the poll); and Salim al-Awa, an Islamist scholar (four
percent in the poll).
The list of candidates is likely to change further before Sunday’s
deadline for submissions. The final list of eligible candidates will
be announced later this month.
Elections are scheduled for May 23 and 24. Should no candidate
receive 50 percent of the votes a second-round runoff between the two
top-scoring aspirants will be held in June. Egypt’s military council
has pledged to hand over power to an elected president by the end of
June. (copyright 1998-2012 Cybercast News Service 04/06/12)
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