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At 11th hour, Egypt presidential hopefuls registered candidacies

As Sunday deadline drew to close, a handful of contentious contenders register candidacies for Egypt's first post-Mubarak presidential poll

Nada Rashwan, Sunday 8 Apr 2012
Omar Suleiman, as Hosni Mubarak's Vice President, reads out Mubarak's step-down announcement on Friday 11 February (photo: State television snapshot)
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Only minutes before the 2pm Sunday deadline for presidential candidacy applications, ex-intelligence chief and Mubarak-era vice president Omar Suleiman arrived at the headquarters of the Supreme Presidential Electoral Commission (SPEC), amid hundreds of supporters who hoisted banners, jumped at his car and aggravated the considerable security presence that was directly supervised by military police head Maj. Gen. Hamdi Badeen.

Suleiman's support campaign, "The revolutionary front for supporting Omar Suleiman," has announced that it has managed to collect over 112,000 citizens' signatures in support of a Suleiman candidacy in the two days since he announced his presidential bid on Friday. The minimum number of signatures required to register a presidential candidacy is 30,000.

Suleiman's campaign chief, Samuel El-Ashai, attributed the campaign's success so far to "Egypt's revolutionaries," who, he claimed, "corrected the path of the Egyptian revolution" by supporting Suleiman's bid.

Muslim Brotherhood figure and head of the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, Mohamed Morsi, has officially submitted his own application, making him the second presidential candidate to be proposed by the Brotherhood.

Morsi entered SPEC headquarters from its rear entrance to avoid the commotion caused by Suleiman supporters at the main entrance. Morsi's legal representative arrived earlier in the day to finish the necessary paperwork, but SPEC officials insisted that Morsi sign the documents in person.

Leftist rights lawyer and activist Khaled Ali also managed to submit his application Sunday morning, after gathering 33 MPs' signatures. Ali was escorted by dozens of supporters who accompanied him to SPEC headquarters.

Upon exiting the building, Ali slammed the Suleiman campaign, telling reporters that Suleiman was a "second Mubarak" and alluding to his "dark history" during the Mubarak era.

"Suleiman was responsible for Egypt's loss of its friendly relations with Nile Basin countries, especially Ethiopia," Ali asserted. "He was also the mediator between the Mubarak regime and Israel against the Palestinians."

Former deputy foreign minister Abdullah El-Ashaal, who is refraining from running for president in favour of Muslim Brotherhood candidate Khairat El-Shater, nevertheless arrived at SPEC headquarters on Sunday to register his candidacy.

El-Ashaal, who is running through the Salafist Asala party, told Al-Ahram's Arabic-language website that there was no significance behind his choice to run as a representative of a Salafist party, stressing that if any other party had agreed to nominate him on their behalf he would have accepted.

According to SPEC regulations, would-be presidential contenders must enjoy the support of at least 30 elected MPs, collect 30,000 citizens' signatures from at least 15 governorates throughout Egypt, or secure the backing of a political party that holds at least one seat in Parliament.

El-Ashaal explained that he felt he should enter the race following the legal confusion over El-Shater's eligibility to run. He added that he had personally advised the Muslim Brotherhood to nominate another candidate in case the SPEC rejected El-Shater's bid.

Islamic preacher Safwat Hegazi, who announced Friday that he would contest the presidency as a representative of Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya's Building and Development Party, announced on Sunday that he would not, in fact, enter the race. Hegazi did, however, make an appearance at SPEC headquarters, where he spoke to media representatives.

Hegazi explained that he had intended to enter the presidential race in order to combat attempts by Mubarak regime figures to push Suleiman into the presidency. Hegazi added that the reason for his last-minute withdrawal was because he feared splitting the Islamist vote should he run.

In a related development, lawyer and former head of the Zamalek football club Mortada Mansour arrived at SPEC headquarters to file his own candidacy application as a representative of the Egypt National Party, viewed largely as an offshoot of Mubarak's now-defunct National Democratic Party.

Mansour currently stands accused of playing a role in the infamous "Battle of the Camel" in Cairo's Tahrir Square during last year's uprising. Mansour skipped Sunday's court session in order to file his candidacy application.

SPEC head Hatem Bagato said Sunday that the final list of presidential contenders would be announced on 26 April.

Voting for Egypt's first post-Mubarak presidential poll will take place on 23 and 24 May. The new president will be named on 21 June following a runoff vote – in the event that no single candidate wins an initial outright majority – on 16 and 17 June.

The SPEC has so far officially received 22 applications, six of which were submitted on Sunday. Other than today's candidates, the most prominent names on the list include:

Khairat El-Shater (via MPs' signatures)

Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh (via citizens' signatures)

Hazem Abu-Ismail (via citizens' signatures)

Amr Moussa (via citizens' signatures)

Ahmed Shafiq (via citizens' signatures)

Mohamed Selim El-Awa (via MPs' signatures)

Ayman Nour (officially nominated by the Ghad El-Thawra Party)

Hamdeen Sabbahi (via citizens' signatures)

Abul-Ezz El-Hariri (officially nominated by the Socialist Popular Alliance Party) 

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