Egypt disqualifications dramatically alter race for top jobBy DALLIA MONIEM in Cairo | Wednesday, April 18 2012 at 09:38
Egypt's Supreme Presidential Electoral Commission (SPEC) late Tuesday knocked back the appeals of ten presidential candidates, disqualifying them from running for office in a decision that dramatically defines the topsy-turvy race to lead the country post-Hosni Mubarak.
The disqualification of three front runners--Omar Suleiman, Mr Mubarak's former intelligence chief; Muslim Brotherhood candidate Khairat El-Shater and hardline Salafi lawyer-turned-preacher Hazem AbuIsmailn-- has mainly benefitted the candidacies of former Arab League and Foreign Affairs minister Amr Moussa and ex Muslim Brotherhood member AbdelMoniem Aboul Fotouh, analysts said.
On Saturday nearly half of the candidates, ten out of 23, had been barred from taking part in next month's presidential race for a number of reasons and where given two days to appeal the decision.
But according to wire agency Reuters "All appeals have been rejected because nothing new was offered in the appeal requests," said a member of the judicial committee on condition of anonymity, a fact confirmed by another unnamed source.
Egyptian electoral law provides that for a citizen to run for President they must fulfil one of the following: A minimum of 30,000 citizen endorsement signatures with at least 15,000 coming from 15 different governorates at a rate of 1000 each; the endorsement of a party that at minimum has one MP in either house of Parliament; or the endorsement of at least 30 MPs from both of houses of Parliament.
Mr El-Shater, a millionaire businessman and the deputy Brotherhood leader was initially disqualified due to his questionable status following his imprisonment in 2008 for money laundering and funding a "banned group", in reference to the then-outlawed Brotherhood.
According to various reports he has not received the full clearance from his 2006 Al-Azhar Militias Case, and as such cannot run for office.
Mr Suleiman did not obtain the required number of signatures from “15 Egyptian governorates as any would-be presidential candidate must obtain 30,000 citizens' signatures from across the country in support of their nominations.”
Further, according to one media outlet, half the signatures obtained by Mr Suleiman were forged.
Mr AbuIsmail's case is more straightforward as his mother held US citizenship and under electoral laws candidates cannot run for office if they, their parents or spouses hold dual nationality.
The disqualification of the three stand out names was greeted with relief by a number of political analysts who believe it is a blessing in disguise.
Issandr El Amrani of the Arabist blog wrote: “The destabilising prospect of these three candidates, who are thought by many to have the best chance of winning the election, is why the presidential electoral commission's recent decision to exclude them on eligibility grounds (because Mr Suleiman has insufficient qualifying endorsements, Mr Al Shater is a former convict, and Mr Abu Ismail's American mother) may turn out to be a blessing, no matter how unfair.
'Difficult to stomach'
"The fact is that among ordinary Egyptians and the country's fragmented elite, the victory of any one of them would be difficult to stomach. There are those who reject the Brothers' societal project just as there are those who could not stomach the restoration that a Suleiman victory would symbolise, while the populist antics of Mr Abu Ismail are the stuff of nightmares for both those camps.”
The Electoral Commission's final decision now leaves the path to the presidential office open to Amr Moussa and ex-Brotherhood member Aboul Fotouh.
But the Brotherhood has announced that it is fronting Mohamed Mursi, the head of its political party, in Mr El-Shater's place.
Presidential elections are due to take place on May 23rd and 24th, with a runoff round, if necessary, slated for June 16th and 17th with June 21st circled as the date the new president will be formally named.
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