Suleiman lashes out at claims he is backed by army (JERUSALEM POST) By OREN KESSLER, REUTERS 04/10/12)
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Hosni Mubarak’s former intelligence chief said Egypt’s military
rulers do not support his bid for the presidency 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.
MK Binyamin Ben-Eliezer (Labor) said Monday that from Israel’s
perspective, Suleiman would be the best candidate to take the reins
Speaking to Israel Radio, the former defense minister said Suleiman
is a patriot who “loves Egypt” and views relations with Israel as
a “cornerstone” of Cairo’s strategic policy.
For years Ben-Eliezer, a native Arabic speaker born in Iraq, enjoyed
a close relationship with Mubarak, and said he had been in touch with
the deposed leader “every day for 20 to 30 minutes” during the
revolution that ended his three-decade rule over a year ago.
Eric Trager, an Egypt expert at the Washington Institute for Near
East Policy, said Israel has to accept that none of the current
presidential candidates offer much hope for a stable Egypt.
“Israelis need to be prepared for an Egypt that’s going to be a
highly unstable place in the years to come – that’s obviously the
case if an Islamist takes power but also if it’s someone like
Suleiman,” he told The Jerusalem Post.
“I think the challenge for Washington and Jerusalem is to figure out
what their respective interests are in Egypt, and how to protect
those few things in what will probably be years of transition,” he
“If a new Mubarak comes to power, there will be many in Egypt who
will view the government as illegitimate and continue to act against
That’s not an outcome that serves either the US or Israeli interests.”
In his interview Monday, Suleiman said the Supreme Council of the
Armed Forces has no connection to his decision to join the
“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 told
the state-run al- Akhbar newspaper.
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 a majority in parliament, 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
Members of the Brotherhood were not available to comment on
Suleiman’s accusation that he received death threats from them.
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 monopolize all posts.”
The army suspended the constitution that gave absolute powers to the
president 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.”
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. Reuters contributed to this report. (© 1995-2011, The
Jerusalem Post 04/10/12)
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