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Disqualifications Shake up Egyptian Presidential Elections

Disqualifications Shake up Egyptian Presidential Elections

Elections have consumed post-Mubarak Egypt, between the months-long parliamentary elections in November and December and the contentious presidential election set to happen this summer. Much of the controversy has surrounded the recent disqualification of 10 out of 23 Egyptian candidates for president, including the three who were widely considered to be front-runners.

The former front-runners who have now been disqualified include:

  • Omar Suleiman, President Mubarak’s vice president and long-time leader in the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), who was considered to be the Army’s choice candidate, even though Army leaders had publicly kept their distance from him.
  • Khairat al Sater, the deputy leader of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, who was nominated at the beginning of April by the Muslim Brotherhood. This nomination meant that the Muslim Brotherhood had reneged on its promise to not nominate a candidate from its own party—a promise they had made so the group would not be seen as seeking total control over the new Egyptian government (the Muslim Brotherhood won the majority of parliamentary seats in elections in December). The nomination was approved by the Shura council (the Brotherhood’s decision-making body) because the council believed that a Muslim Brotherhood-controlled legislative and executive branch would provide them with more power to stand up to the SCAF.
  • Hazem Abu Islmail, who was a hyper-conservative candidate supported by the Salafist movement of Islam.

The finalized list of candidates is expected to be released on April 26, but voting has now been pushed back by the SCAF, which has insisted that the new constitution be completed before voting commences. Elections are now expected at the end of May.

The delays in the presidential race further prove the power that the Army still holds. The leader of the Al-Adl Party (which was formed out of the group of young revolutionaries who led the April 6 youth movement) warned that pushing back elections could create "mayhem that threatens the country's security ... It is a coup against the democratic transition. The people won't accept anyone ruling them without an election."

Although these elections are clearly domestic, Israel has a significant stake in their outcome and how it could affect the future of the 1979 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel. Regardless of the posturing that might occur during the presidential elections regarding the Egypt-Israel  relationship and treaty, Egyptian public opinion suggests that whoever wins might find the political will to maintain the treaty. A poll conducted by the International Peace Institute in September 2011 (prior to the parliamentary elections) indicated that 71% of Egyptians wanted to maintain the peace treaty.

Keep checking RACblog for more updates on developments in Egypt and throughout the countries that were affected by the Arab Spring.

Photo couresty of UPI

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