Egypt´s former spy chief says not backed by army (REUTERS) Reporting by Ahmed Tolbah and Yasmine Saleh, Writing by Yasmine Saleh; Editing by Jackie Frank CAIRO, EGYPT 04/08/12 11:06pm EDT)
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(Reuters) - Hosni Mubarak´s former intelligence chief said his bid
for the presidency does not have the support of Egypt´s military
rulers and accused Islamists of sending him death threats, an
Egyptian newspaper reported on Monday.
Omar Suleiman, 74, announced his candidacy on Friday and showed he
still wields political clout by collecting around 72,000 signatures
of eligible voters in one day, more than twice the 30,000 required.
The deadline for submitting signatures was Sunday.
Suleiman´s military background suggested to many that he had the
backing of the ruling army council that took over from Mubarak in
February last year.
"The supreme council has no relation, neither negatively nor
positively, with my decision to join the race for the presidency,"
Suleiman said in an interview published in the state´s Al-Akhbar
newspaper on Monday.
"And indeed, as soon as my nomination for the presidency was
announced, I received on my personal mobile and through some people
close to me death threats and messages saying ´we will take revenge´
from members of the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups," he
Suleiman, made vice president by Mubarak in the last days of his
three-decade rule, symbolizes that era´s tough security regime and
poses a threat to Islamists, who were routinely harassed and arrested
during Mubarak´s era, and to liberals, who spearheaded Mubarak´s
ouster. But his candidacy might appeal to some Egyptians hoping for
an end to political instability.
His 11th-hour decision to run for president came shortly after the
Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist movement long suppressed by Mubarak
and now in control of a parliament majority, broke a pledge not to
field a candidate and nominated its deputy leader, Khairat al-Shater,
for head of state.
In an interview with Reuters on Sunday, Shater denounced Suleiman´s
bid for his former boss´s job.
"I consider his entry an insult to the revolution and the Egyptian
people," said Shater, who said he spent 12 years in jail during the
Mubarak era. "Omar Suleiman has made a big mistake. He will only win
through forgery and, if this happens, the revolution will kick off
The support of the Brotherhood´s formidable campaign machine makes
Shater an immediate front-runner.
Members of the Brotherhood were not available to comment on
Suleiman´s accusation that he received death threats from them.
The military council has said it will hand power to civilians after a
presidential election due in May and June. Around 23 candidates
qualified to run for head of state and most of the top contenders are
Islamists or Mubarak-era politicians.
Asked about Egyptians who view his nomination as an attempt to
reproduce the Mubarak regime they ousted, Suleiman said: "Let us say
that you cannot turn back the clock. The revolution has formed a new
reality ... and no one could ever revive a regime that has failed,
ended, and was rejected by the public."
"And I have told the Egyptian youth and many others with whom I have
met during the revolution period that I am in favor of their
legitimate demands," he added.
If he were to win, Suleiman said he would not interfere in the trials
of any of the members of the former regime. Mubarak and some of his
top officials are on trial for charges related to the death of over
800 protesters during the uprising and for corruption. The final
verdict in Mubarak´s case is due on June 2.
A BROTHERHOOD MONOPOLY
Suleiman said he was encouraged to run for the state´s top post
because he felt the Brotherhood´s popularity has fallen due to "their
determination to monopolies all posts."
The current constitution that gave absolute powers to the president
was suspended by the army shortly after the toppling of Mubarak.
Suleiman said he could not accept the presidency if the
constitutional committee decides to give more power to the parliament
than the president.
"I would never agree to be just an image. The head of state has to
have real power, and I think that the country is in need of a strong
president who would bring stability and security."
Like most of his rivals, Suleiman vowed to bring security back to the
streets, aid Egypt´s distressed economy, implement democracy and
respect all international treaties.
During the Egyptian uprising Suleiman had said in an interview with
ABC that Egyptians were not ready for democracy. His comments turned
against him the millions of Egyptians who had campaigned for weeks
for an end to Mubarak´s rule.
"Egypt will always be and continue to be a national democratic state
where its children enjoy full rights," Suleiman said in Monday´s
interview. (© Thomson Reuters 2012. 04/08/12)
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