Egypt disqualifies top Islamists, Mubarak VP from vote (REUTERS) By Tom Perry and Dina Zayed CAIRO, EGYPT 04/14/12 9:22pm EDT)
Reuters News Service
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(Reuters) - The race for the Egyptian presidency took a dramatic turn
on Saturday when the authorities disqualified front-runners including
Hosni Mubarak´s spy chief, a Muslim Brotherhood candidate and a
Salafi preacher whose lawyer warned that "a major crisis" was looming.
The presidential election is the climax of a transition to civilian
rule being led by the military council that assumed power from
Mubarak on February 11, 2011 at the height of the uprising against
his three decades in power.
The generals are due to hand power to the elected president on July 1.
The disqualifications add to the drama of a transition punctuated by
spasms of violence and now mired in bitter political rivalries
between once-banned Islamists, secular-minded reformists and remnants
of the Mubarak order.
Farouk Sultan, head of the presidential election commission, told
Reuters a total of 10 of the 23 candidates had been disqualified from
the race. They have 48 hours to appeal.
Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, the Salafi, was disqualified because his
mother held U.S. citizenship, the state news agency reported,
confirming previous reports fiercely denied by the Islamist who says
he is the victim of a plot.
Abu Ismail´s lawyer, Nizar Ghorab, told Reuters he expected "a major
crisis" in the next few hours.
The Muslim Brotherhood´s Khairat al-Shater was also among those
disqualified on Saturday. His spokesman said he would challenge the
Omar Suleiman, Mubarak´s intelligence chief and vice president in his
last days in power, would also appeal, his spokesman said.
The elimination of three of the top candidates in what is being
billed as Egypt´s first real presidential vote would redraw the
electoral map just a few weeks before the vote gets underway in May.
The election is expected to go to a June run-off between the top two
Other front-runners include Amr Moussa, a former Arab League
Secretary General and Egyptian foreign minister, and Abdul Moneim
Abol Fotouh, who was expelled from the Brotherhood last year when he
decided to mount his own presidential campaign.
Abu Ismail is the most hard-line of the Islamists running for the
post. On Friday, his supporters besieged the headquarters of the
election commission, forcing it to evacuate the premises and suspend
its work. The building was guarded by security forces with riot
ABU ISMAIL SEES ´CONSEQUENCES´
Abu Ismail has galvanized an enthusiastic support base by mixing
revolutionary zeal with ultra-orthodox Salafi Islamism.
"The presidential committee has violated all the rules of law," Abu
Ismail said in remarks published on his Facebook page. "If the
official decision is to violate the constitution, they should be able
to deal with the consequences," he said.
His candidacy had been in doubt since the election commission said it
had received notification from U.S. authorities that his late mother
had an American passport, a status that would disqualify him from the
Abu Ismail followers have hit the streets in protests to warn against
any move to disqualify him. He denies his mother ever held dual
In Washington, the State Department had no comment on the
disqualification of the 10 candidates, including Abu Ismail.
As for the Brotherhood´s Shater, his candidacy had been in doubt due
to past criminal convictions widely seen as trumped up by the
authorities due to his political activities.
The Brotherhood, founded in 1928, has moved to the heart of public
life since Mubarak was toppled. Anticipating Shater´s
disqualification, the Brotherhood had nominated Mohamed Mursi, head
of its political party, as a reserve candidate.
"We will not give up our right to enter the presidential race," said
Murad Muhammed Ali, Shater´s campaign manager.
"There is an attempt by the old Mubarak regime to hijack the last
stage of this transitional period and reproduce the old system of
Shater had described Suleiman´s last-minute decision to enter the
race as an insult to the Egyptians who rose up against Mubarak.
Suleiman says he is running to prevent Egypt from turning into a
The state news agency said Suleiman had been disqualified due to a
shortfall in the number of registered supporters from whom his
campaign had gathered signed petitions.
Candidates were supposed to gather at least 30,000 signatures from at
least 15 provinces. Suleiman was a thousand short in one of the
provinces, the state agency said.
Hussein Kamal, a top Suleiman aide, told Reuters his campaign would
also challenge the commission´s decision. "Suleiman´s campaign can
finish collecting petitions if that is what is missing," he told
(Additional reporting by Marwa Awad and Ahmed Tolba; Writing by Tom
Perry; Editing by Maria Golovnina and Todd Eastham) (© Thomson
Reuters 2012. 04/14/12)
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