Egypt Bars 10 From Presidential Race (WSJ) WALL STREET JOURNAL) MATT BRADLEY CAIRO, EGYPT 04/15/12)
WALL STREET JOURNAL
WALL STREET JOURNAL Articles-Index-Top
CAIRO—Egypt´s Presidential Elections Commission will exclude 10
candidates, including three prominent frontrunners, from presidential
elections next month, a decision that is likely to stoke popular
outrage across Egypt´s political spectrum.
Farouq Sultan, a judge and the head of the commission, said Saturday
night that Muslim Brotherhood candidate Khairat Al Shater, former
intelligence chief Omar Suleiman and hardline Islamist preacher Hazem
Abu Ismail will be barred from running.
Mr. Sultan gave no explanation for the candidates´ exclusion. The ten
presidential hopefuls will have 48 hours to appeal the decision.
If the excluded presidential candidates fail in their appeals, the
popular backlash is likely to be overwhelming.
The announcement threatens to launch a renewed round of instability
only a month before Egypt´s first post-revolutionary presidential
elections and little more than two months before the military has
promised to hand over power to an elected civilian president.
"This is a purely political decision," said Mourad Mohamed Ali, the
head of Mr. Shater´s presidential campaign. Mr. Ali said the decision
was directed by Egypt´s interim military leadership who he said were
working to undermine Egypt´s revolution and reconstitute the ousted
regime of former President Hosni Mubarak.
"It´s not about whether Shater will be able to go for the election or
not. We are talking about human rights. We are talking about
legitimacy. We are talking about the direction of Egypt," he said.
Yet Mr. Suleiman´s exclusion, alongside hardline Islamists such as
Mr. Shater and Mr. Abu Ismail, complicates perceived notions that the
election commission´s decision was a purely political gesture aimed
at checking the rise of Islamist politicians.
Since Mr. Suleiman announced his participation in the race last week,
furious Islamist and liberal activists alike have maligned him as an
extension of the military regime. The rumors became so pervasive that
the normally tight-lipped intelligence services announced on Saturday
that they were not supporting or campaigning on Mr. Suleiman´s behalf.
The presidential elections commission said Mr. Suleiman was
disqualified because he failed to gather supporters´ signatures from
at least 15 different governorates in accordance with campaign laws.
Mr. Ali speculated that the commission may have excluded Mr. Suleiman
as a token gesture of fairness to justify sidelining Islamist
candidates. The Brotherhood has "indicators" that the nominally
independent election commission is operating under orders from the
ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, or SCAF.
The SCAF appointed judges who populate the election commission. The
generals will meet with the heads of egyptian political parties to
discuss the announcement, according to egypt´s official state media
If the commission´s decisions are upheld, the presidential field will
be clear for Amr Moussa, the popular former secretary general of the
Arab League, to dominate the vote. Mr. Moussa, who also served as Mr.
Mubarak´s minister of foreign affairs, has spent the past year
leading the presidential pack, according to poll figures.
Campaign staff for Mr. Suleiman, Mr. Shater and Mr. Abu Ismail said
they planned to appeal the decision. But supporters for both
candidates have demonstrated a willingness to take to the streets in
defense of their candidates.
Thousands of mostly Islamist demonstrators filled Cairo´s Tahrir
Square on Friday to demand that the military leadership approve a law
excluding Mr. Suleiman from the race because of his connections to
the ousted regime of Hosni Mubarak.
Sharing the same space and many of the same chants were thousands of
supporters of Mr. Abu Ismail. Mr. Abu Ismail´s candidacy has been
under threat for weeks since revelations surfaced that his late
mother held American citizenship.
Under a constitutional declaration passed by the military last March,
the children of foreign nationals are ineligible to run for president.
Supporters of Mr. Abu Ismail, a lawyer-turned-preacher, have
developed a reputation for extreme devotion.
Egypt´s military was deployed Friday night to protect the offices of
the presidential election commission after hundreds of Mr. Abu
Ismail´s fans— known has "Hazemoon" after the candidate´s first name—
surrounded the building to demand that their candidate be included in
the voter rolls.
Mr. Ali said the election commission excluded Mr. Shater because of a
2006 sentence to seven years in prison on charges of money
laundering. The SCAF released Mr. Shater last year and pardoned him
late last month, several days before the Brotherhood announced his
Mr. Ali said the legal standing of Mr. Shater´s candidacy was "very
In anticipation of Mr. Shater´s possible exclusion, the Brotherhood
nominated Mohamed Morsi, the chairman of the Brotherhood-backed
Freedom and Justice Party, as their second candidate for president
The reasoning behind Mr. Suleiman´s exclusion was less clear. Egypt´s
Islamist-dominated parliament passed legislation aimed at blocking
the candidacies of Mr. Suleiman and Ahmed Shafiq, Mr. Mubarak´s final
prime ministerial appointee before his ouster last February. The
military leadership, however, has not approved the legislation and
legal experts have said courts will probably deam the bill
unconstitutional. (Copyright © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.) 04/15/12)
Return to Top
MATERIAL REPRODUCED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY