Moussa, Abul-Fotouh head-to-head on Egypt's 1st presidential TV debate

Ahram Online, Thursday 10 May 2012

Presidential contenders ex-Brotherhood member Abul-Fotouh and Mubarak-era minister Moussa will kick off Egypt's first televised presidential debate on ONTV and Dream TV Thursday; chosen as both top recent opinion polls

Abdel Moneim Abul-Fottoh and Amr Moussa
Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh and Amr Moussa

Egypt's first televised presidential debate is to take place at 7:30pm Cairo local time (GMT+2) Thursday between candidates Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh and Amr Moussa  on private channels ONTV and Dream TV.

These particular presidential contenders were chosen to start the series of televised discussions, as they are currently topping recent presidential opinion polls.

Well-known talk show hosts ONTV's Yosri Fouda and Dream TV's Mona El-Shazly are expected to interview the candidates separately. The debate will include issues such as the constitution, the authority of the president and their respective presidential campaigns.

Privately-owned Egyptian newspapers Al-Shorouk and Al-Masry Al-Youm are also collaborating in the televised event.

Prior to the debate journalist Hafez El-Merazi, ONTV anchor Reem Maged, Dream TV anchor Amr Khafaga and MP and columnist Amr Shobaky will host a show outlining the rules of the debate.

Abul-Fotouh is a practicing physician with extensive experience in relief work on an international level, a prominent Islamist activist and a former leading figure of the Muslim Brotherhood. Abul-Fotouh is also known for his revolutionary and liberal positions.

However, the fact that a number of Salafist groups including the Nour Party, which holds almost 25 per cent of the seats in parliament, have officially backed Abul-Fotouh has put the presidential candidate in a difficult position in front of his liberal and leftist supporters.

Abul-Fotouh is also fighting for the Islmaist vote with Brotherhood candidate, Mohamed Morsi, particularly as the Islamist group accuse Abul-Fotouh of being too liberal.

Moussa is a prominent politician and career diplomat. He held the office of secretary-general of the Arab League for a decade between 2001 to 2011 and is considered a leading liberal figure and critic of the Islamist movements.

As Hosni Mubarak's former foreign minister, Moussa, who declared in a 2010 televised elections interview that he would vote for Egypt's former president, is also criticised by many revolutionaries who see him as "felool" or a remnant of the former leader's regime.

Nevertheless, out of all the presidential candidates Moussa is one of the most familiar faces to the Egyptian public, which arguably gives him an edge in Upper Egypt and among many other poorer areas.

The presidential debate will be recorded in an ONTV studio.

Egypt's presidential elections will take place on 23 and 24 May. The president will be named on 21 June after a runoff voting round, if necessary, on 16 and 17 June.


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