A ruling from Egypt's administrative court does not conclusively confirm the nationality of presidential candidate Abu-Ismail's mother, but it puts the onus for resolving the controversial issue on the country's interior ministry.
On Wednesday, the court ruled that Egyptian law obliges the country's interior ministry to hold records on all citizens who hold double nationality -- including those who attained a second nationality without applying for permission from Egyptian authorities.
The court's verdict boosted the case of Salafist presidential contender Hazem Abu-Ismail, who has been facing the prospect of ejection from the race due to allegations his mother acquired US citizenship before her death.
Egyptian electoral laws prohibit anyone who holds foreign nationality, or whose parents do, from running for the country's highest office.
The court ordered the Ministry of Interior to present an official document denying the alleged double-nationality of Nawal Nour, Abu-Ismail's mother, who applied for US nationality in 2006.
The ruling does not definitively prove that Abu-Ismail's mother did not hold US citizenship. The presidential front-runner's supporters, however, think the court's verdict is in favour of their candidate.
In its findings the court said that, according to Egyptian law, the Ministry of Interior should hold nationality records of all Egyptian citizens. The records should contain:
Names of those with Egyptian nationality, either born or acquired
Names of citizens who were granted official permission to hold a foreign nationality while retaining their Egyptian nationality
Names of citizens who acquired foreign nationality without the Egyptian authorities' consent. In such cases, the interior ministry is supposed to inform the Egyptian cabinet which will then take legal action against such citizens and decide whether to withdraw their Egyptian nationality.
On 4 April, Abu-Ismail filed a lawsuit with the State Council against the head of the Supreme Presidential Electoral Commission (SPEC) Abdel-Moez Ibrahim and Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim, demanding the Mininstry of Interior issue a certificate confirming his mother does not hold dual nationality.
The SPEC is not subject to judicial authority pursuant to Article 28 of the constitutional declaration issued by the ruling military junta following a popular referendum in March 2011.
This means the body is not legally obliged to obey any court ruling and is solely responsible for its decisions, including the elimination of presidential candidates it deems illegible.
Egypt's interior and foreign ministries and the US State Department have all stated that Abu-Ismail's mother acquired a US passport before she died.
Abu-Ismail, however, denies allegations his mother held US citizenship and has demanded official documentation be presented to prove the allegations.
The SPEC is expected to announce a list of applicants, who are legally qualified for the presidency on 26 April.
Abu-Ismail is the son of late high-profile Islamist figure Salah Abu-Ismail, who was a prominent Al-Azhar scholar, a long-standing member of Parliament and a
member of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Salafist contender announced his bid for the presidency in May 2011 and has been considered a frontrunner in the 2012 race. His bid, however, has faltered amid speculation over his mother's nationality.