Hazem Salah Abu-Ismail's presidential campaign says the Salafist's electoral chances will actually be bolstered by the recently announced nomination of Muslim Brotherhood number two Khairat El-Shater for Egypt's presidency.
The campaign’s statement reads: “The Brotherhood’s nomination of engineer Khairat El-Shater will heighten Abu-Ismail’s popularity and [later] lead to more votes for us.
“[El-Shater’s presidential bid] will definitely have a positive impact on [Abu-Ismail’s campaign], we have our reasons to think so.”
Hani Hafez, an Abu-Ismail campaign manager, told Ahram Online, “We are campaigning as strongly as ever and [the Brotherhood's] decision will not affect us at all.
“All what was mentioned by the Muslim Brotherhood in [yesterday’s] statement...is exactly what Abu-Ismail warned of on 26 February 2011, right after Mubarak stepped down, which fully supports our situation,” added Hafez, refusing to elaborate.
A joint statement by the Brotherhood and the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) said they based their decision to field El-Shater on the belief that grave dangers threaten the country's democratic transition, adding that the existence of a number of Mubarak-era candidates in the forthcoming polls is cause for concern.
El-Shater parted ways with the Islamist group – by mutual consent – in order to run in the May presidential elections, which many believe will turn into a two-horse race between Abu-Ismail and him.
With a relatively brief history in electoral politics, a respectable career as a lawyer, a reputable status as a influential Islamic preacher, and known for his sharp political rhetoric, Abu-Ismail has emerged as one of the frontrunners in Egypt’s first post-Mubarak presidential contest.
He announced his decision to run for the presidency in May 2011.
Presidential elections will take place on 23 and 24 May, and the president will be named on 21 June after a runoff voting round on 16 and 17 June.