The Supreme Presidential Electoral Commission (SPEC) disqualified on Saturday 10 contenders from Egypt’s anticipated presidential elections, including Salafist poster-child Hazem Salah Abu-Ismail
, ex-intelligence chief Omar Suleiman
and Muslim Brotherhood leading figure Khairat El-Shater
The SPEC – a body of judges appointed by the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) – says it thoroughly checked all applicants’ files and looked into the complaints lodged against them before deciding their fate.
Sources from the SPEC told Ahram Online that Abu-Ismail was eliminated because evidence proved that his mother actually held US citizenship, while Suleiman’s recommendations did not fulfill some of the requisite requirements, including the term stipulating that recommendations from citizens must be gathered from 15 governorates.
El-Shater, the sources said, was declared ineligible to run for president because of his legal status, as the pardon he had earlier received from the SCAF was not acknowledged by the SPEC.
Farouk Sultan, head of the commission, said the disqualified presidential hopefuls can appeal against the decision within 48 hours.
Abu-Ismail, Suleiman and El-Shater have already announced their intention to appeal against the decision.
Abu-Ismail’s eligibility was brought into question after Egyptian and US authorities confirmed that his late mother held US citizenship. According to presidential eligibility regulations, candidates’ parents must not hold any nationality other than Egyptian.
The State Council administrative court returned Wednesday a verdict mandating that the Ministry of Interior hand Abu-Ismail an official document stipulating that the ministry cannot prove that his mother held a foreign nationality.
As Abu-Ismail’s supporters celebrated the ruling, legal experts stressed that it does not prove his mother did not have dual nationality.
To the same extent, Khairat El-Shater’s legal status is questionable, which was cited as a reason why the Brotherhood opted of late to field a second presidential candidate in Mohamed Morsi, the head of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP).
In 2006, El-Shater was accused of money laundering and of funding the then-banned Brotherhood group. His case was referred to military prosecution, which sentenced him in 2008 to seven years in prison.
He was only released four years later, after the ouster of Hosni Mubarak in February 2011, for health considerations.
Suleiman, on the other hand, was already tipped to be declared ineligible due to problems related to his recommendations.
Earlier on Saturday, a source associated to Suleiman’s presidential campaign, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Ahram Online that all “the rumours over his eligibility in joining the presidential race are not entirely unfounded.” The source revealed that around half of the registered recommendations that Suleiman turned in “are forged.”
The Disenfranchisement Law, which has been recently approved by the Parliament, was another reason why Suleiman was expected to be ruled out of the presidential race.
The law stipulates that those who were part of the former regime over the past 10 years would not be eligible to run for presidency. Suleiman and Mubarak’s last prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq, would both be eliminated should the law be enacted. So far, the SCAF has not ratified the law.
Secretary General of the SPEC, Tamer Bagato, was commissioned to inform the eliminated presidential hopefuls of their disqualifications. Ahram Online understands the 10 of them have officially learnt the news.
The other presidential hopefuls who have been ruled out of the race are acid-tongue lawyer Mortada Mansour, founder of the liberal Ghad Al-Thawra Party Ayman Nour, English teacher Ibrahim El-Gharib, former state director of antiquities in central Upper Egypt Ahmed Awad, ex-general intelligence officer Mamdouh Qutb, candidate of the Egypt Arab Socialist Party Hossam Khairat and Ashraf Barouma of the Egypt Kanana Party.
Nour was not found eligible considering that he has been in prison for criminal charges. The pardon he had earlier received by the SCAF was not acknowledged by the SPEC.
Mansour and Awad were ruled out over the ongoing legal battle between them as they are both seeking to head the National Egypt Party.
Barouma bowed out because he did not fulfill the mandatory military service, El-Gharib because his recommendations did not fulfill the compulsory requirements.
Qutb’s elimination came as a result of the resignation of the parliamentary commission of El-Hadara Party, which he represents.
Hossam Khairat was disqualified as the Socialist Arab Party does not have a legal representative.
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.