Nour Party president, Emad Abdel-Ghafour, said on Sunday that the largest Salafist party has yet to officially endorse a presidential contender, refuting reports that it would back up businessman Khairat El-Shater, who has just parted ways with the Muslim Brotherhood
– by mutual consent – in order to run for president.
Until the last moment, the Brotherhood had held fast to its promise not to field a presidential candidate. With the closing date for applications around the corner and feeling pressure from the ruling military junta to disband the parliament (which the Brotherhood dominates), they changed their minds to shore up more strength. El-Shater promptly resigned from the party to turn right around and announce he will run for the presidential chair.
It was rumoured that the Nour Party had decided to support El-Shater, whose nomination was announced late Saturday.
Abdel-Ghafour, however, stressed that all options are still open for his party, saying it might announce an official posture on the presidential race by the end of the current week.
"Originally, we agreed to announce our decision on which candidate to support by the end of the formal registration process for presidential candidates on 8 April," Abdel-Ghafour said.
"But after the recent developments, we decided to hold meetings on Wednesday and Thursday, by the end of which we may decide to make our decision and reveal it prematurely," he explained in exclusive statements to Ahram Online.
Individually, many of the Nour Party youth are supporting Salafist poster-child, Hazem Salah Abu-Ismail, who is by far deemed a frontrunner in the presidential race.
Such massive support for Abu-Ismail from within the Nour Party, many believe, might mount pressure on the party’s decision-making bodies while choosing their candidate – a notion that was downplayed by Abdel-Ghafour.
"That will not cause any problems at all," he replied. "There might be some disagreements if the party decides not to endorse Abu-Ismail’s candidacy, but those who support him are our sons. We would try to convince them of our perspective and I think they would come around.
"But up till now, all options are open," Abdel-Ghafour iterated. "At this point, we are neutral towards Abu-Ismail, El-Shater or any other presidential contender."