Mubarak´s ex-premier barred from presidential race (REUTERS) By Shaimaa Fayed and Tom Perry CAIRO, EGYPT 04/24/12 10:54am EDT)
Reuters News Service
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(Reuters) - Egypt´s ruling military has approved a law banning Hosni
Mubarak´s top former officials from running for president, ruling out
his last prime minister and possibly helping former Arab League chief
Amr Moussa in his race against Islamists.
Ahmed Shafiq´s elimination narrows the options for Egyptians who do
not want an Islamist head of state: the other front-runners are the
Muslim Brotherhood´s Mohamed Mursi and Abdel Moneim Abol Fotouh, a
former member of the group.
Egypt holds its first presidential election since Mubarak´s overthrow
in February 2011 on May 23 and 24, with a likely run-off between the
top two candidates in June. The ruling generals are due to hand power
to the new president on July 1.
The sketchy opinion polls that are available put Moussa in the lead,
suggesting he will head into the run-off against one of the
Islamists. However, many voters are undecided.
"Part of the votes that would have gone to Shafiq would go to Amr
Moussa, because he is the only figure with government experience that
remains in the race," said Mustapha Kamel al-Sayyid, a professor of
political science at Cairo University.
The first real race for the Egypt´s presidency had already taken a
dramatic turn earlier this month when the authorities disqualified
three other front-runners including Mubarak´s former vice-president,
Omar Suleiman, and two top Islamists.
The disqualifications have stoked the turbulence of the army-led
transition, which has been punctuated by outbursts of lethal street
violence and which is now mired in political tension between
Islamists and secular-minded forces.
Egypt is set for more political uncertainty after the presidential
vote. Questions remain about how much influence the powerful military
will wield and to what extent presidential powers will be diluted in
a new constitution.
The law barring Mubarak-era officials was drafted by the Islamist-
dominated parliament in response to former spy chief Suleiman´s late
decision to enter the race. News of his candidacy brought tens of
thousands of demonstrators - both Islamists and liberals - into the
streets in protest.
"In our view, any attempt to exclude or deprive citizen Ahmed Shafiq
of his political rights is a constitutional transgression," said
Ahmed Sarhan, spokesman for Shafiq.
Another spokesman for the Shafiq campaign said he would appeal
against any move to disqualify him. The commission overseeing the
election has the final say on Shafiq´s candidacy. Its decisions
cannot be appealed in the courts.
Analysts say Shafiq´s exclusion seemed inevitable after the military
council approved of the legislation, which took legal force on
Tuesday, according to an official document.
The law denies political rights to anyone who occupied a string of
top positions during the last decade of Mubarak´s rule, but does not
apply to former ministers, meaning it does not affect Moussa´s bid.
He served as foreign minister for a decade under Mubarak before
becoming Arab League chief in 2001.
Mubarak appointed Shafiq as prime minister in his last days in power
to try to defuse popular anger in the streets.
A former air force commander, Shafiq had served as Mubarak´s minister
of civil aviation and won credit for overseeing the redevelopment of
(Additional reporting by Marwa Awad; Writing by Tom Perry; Editing by
Alistair Lyon) (© Thomson Reuters 2012. 04/24/12)
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