13 battle for Egyptian presidency, 3 stand out (JERUSALEM POST) By NAT FRANK, JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT 05/23/12)
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CAIRO – Hamdeen Sabahy, the longtime opposition activist who has
become the dark horse in Egypt’s upcoming presidential elections, has
become the most ubiquitous face in Cairo.
With elections slated for this Wednesday and Thursday, Egypt and the
Arab world’s largest city has transformed into a heated battleground
for the 13 candidates vying for the country’s first vacant
presidential throne in over three decades.
Still, from the 22-kilometer stretch of Cairean highway that runs
from the Egyptian international airport to downtown Cairo, the
pulsating heart of the city where mass protests drove former dogged
president Hosni Mubarak from power, three faces gleam more than any
The most prevalent of the three is that of leftist-Nasserist
candidate Sabahy, whose posters with the slogan “One of Us” hang from
utility poles and lampposts lining the ring road that circumvents the
city, and are plastered on walls and hug trees providing shade in
Cairo’s downtown neighborhoods.
Second to Sabahy, placards and larger banners of the Muslim
Brotherhood’s candidate, Mohamed Mursi, hang above Cairo’s stuffed
causeways and crosstown tunnels. Underneath an endearing photograph
of the 60- year-old candidate’s face, his slogan reads “Renaissance
comes through the will of the people.” Mursi’s previous slogan, “An
Egyptian renaissance with an Islamic point of reference,” came under
fire by the Supreme Presidential Elections Commission, Egypt’s
official electoral body – which banned the use of religious mottos.
Mursi led Egypt’s expatriate vote this past week, AFP reported,
garnering nearly half of the votes that have already been counted.
The fact that he often falls in third place or lower in a number of
Egyptian polls – such as the most recent survey by the Al-Ahram
daily, where he landed in third place with only 15 percent of votes –
may point to the unreliability of such polls in a country where
ordinary citizens fear revealing political predilections.
Or perhaps it indicates something about the political nature of the
Egyptians that have chosen to live and work outside their home
country. The largest such group, at 1.5 million people, lives in
The third candidate whose face noticeably lines Cairo’s Autostrad
road is that of Mubarak’s former prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq, who
was disqualified and then requalified for the race by the official
Shafiq is seen as popular with Egyptians that prefer a member of the
old guard, one with military experience, who can put an end to what
many see as a year of chaos resulting from a largely disbanded police
force, and a military being pushed to its limit maintaining order in
some of the country’s more lawless corners.
In addition to those three, an unusual caricature from Cairo’s three-
week campaign season marked the city’s walls in more than one
location: that of Omar Suleiman, a former presidential candidate
whose campaign lasted for only a number of days.
Suleiman, a former Egyptian spy chief, was disqualified from the race
over a lack of necessary signatures for his entry.
His face, stenciled in black onto the walls of a number of tunnels,
was marked by a one-word slogan: President. (© 1995-2011, The
Jerusalem Post 05/23/12)
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