New entries stir up Egypt presidential race (JERUSALEM POST) By OREN KESSLER 04/09/12)
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The Muslim Brotherhood announced it would field a second presidential
nominee and a Salafist candidate was replaced with an even harder-
line Islamic extremist as registration closed Sunday for Egypt’s
The Brotherhood – which garnered half of the parliamentary seats in
voting earlier this year – announced it would run the head of its
Freedom and Justice Party as its second officially sanctioned
Mohamed Morsi joins Khairat al-Shater, a veteran Brotherhood
financier, as the Brotherhood’s nominees despite the group’s earlier
pledge not to run any presidential contenders at all.
Morsi appears to be the Brotherhood’s “backup” candidate – the
Islamist group wrote on its English-language Twitter account that his
candidacy would be withdrawn if authorities certified Shater as
Cairo’s Al-Ahram newspaper reported that the uncertainty over
Shater’s candidacy stems from the candidate’s prison record. Shater
was serving a seven-year sentence due to expire in 2015 for money
laundering and funding the Brotherhood, which under former president
Hosni Mubarak was banned. He was freed a year ago in the wake of the
popular uprising that pushed out Mubarak after three decades in power.
Shater must now receive a “redemption” pardon from the military court
in which he was tried, but that could come only 10 years after his
sentencing – in 2018. The candidate could, however, be retried if new
evidence is produced surrounding his case, or the ruling Supreme
Council of Armed Forces could decide to issue an immediate pardon.
Former intelligence chief Omar Suleiman was one of the candidates
filing his official registration Sunday. On Friday Suleiman publicly
reversed his earlier decision not to run, but said he needed to
collect the signatures of 30,000 eligible voters by Sunday’s deadline
in order to participate in the election.
Ecstatic supporters cheered behind lines of military police as
Suleiman arrived at the office of the state election committee in
Cairo. He then handed in his candidacy documents, the state news
agency MENA reported.
The 74-year-old is seen as a known quantity in Egypt, a source of
stability in a country roiled by inter-communal violence and the
surprising performance of Islamists in parliamentary elections. But
Suleiman was a trusted ally of Mubarak and his go-to official on ties
with Israel – two points that many voters view as liabilities.
On Saturday Egypt’s electoral commission disqualified Hazem Salah Abu
Ismail – a Brotherhood-linked candidate representing the hardline
Salafist movement – after revelations that his mother was a US
citizen. Abu Ismail has dismissed the charges as a “plot” against
him, but Salafist groups have already chosen a replacement in Safwat
The popular television preacher joined the race on behalf of Al-
Gama’a Al- Islamiyya, a formerly banned extremist organization that
the EU and US deem a terrorist group. Hegazy himself was banned from
entering the United Kingdom three years ago for inciting hatred.
In 2006 Hegazy issued a fatwa calling for the death of visiting
Israeli officials. Though the edict was later withdrawn, his sermons
have since referred to Israelis as “sons of pigs and apes” and
endorsed Kassam rocket fire on Israeli communities near the Gaza
In a sermon from last summer widely circulated on YouTube, Hegazy
warned Israel, “Jerusalem belongs to us, and the whole world belongs
“Every land upon which Islam has set foot will return to us,” he
said. “The caliphate will return to us, on the platform of
prophecy... We will pray in Jerusalem.”
The three-week campaign season starts April 30, with elections
beginning in late May. The latest surveys show former foreign
minister Amr Moussa leading the presidential pack, but those polls
were conducted before Suleiman and the Brotherhood representatives
had announced their candidacy.
The victor must steer the Arab world’s most populous country out of
more than a year of precarious military rule even as the economy
languishes and citizens grow impatient for dividends from an uprising
driven by outrage at poverty and corruption.
The Brotherhood and other Islamists dominate parliament and a body
drafting a new constitution that could curtail the broad powers
Egyptian presidents enjoyed for decades.
Reuters and Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report. (© 1995-
2011, The Jerusalem Post 04/09/12)
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