Wafd party backs presidential candidate Mansour Hassan

Ekram Ibrahim , Thursday 8 Mar 2012

Despite less than half the higher committee members being present at vote meeting, Egypt's oldest opposition party back Sadat-era minister sparking speculation that decision will be reversed when presidential list is announced

presidential candidate Mansour Hassan (Photo: Al-Ahram)

The liberal Wafd Party will support presidential candidate Mansour Hassan, head of the Supreme Council of Armed Forces' (SCAF) Advisory Council after a committee meeting vote, according to a party press conference held Wednesday night.

A few hours after Hassan announced he was joining the presidential race, the Wafd Party higher committee conducted met, despite only 28 of 60 of the board members being present.

The members reviewed three presidential hopefuls including Hassan, who received 12 votes.

Seven members voted for Amr Moussa, previous minister of foreign affairs during the Mubarak era and secretary-general of the Arab League. Two members voted for Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, former Muslim Brotherhood member and  now secretary-general of the Arab Medical Union. Seven abstained from voting.

"This was not a well prepared meeting," Essam Shiha, member of the Wafd Party higher committee, told Ahram Online.

The Wafd's choice may change after the deadline for registration of presidential hopefuls, when all the runners will be announced. The fact that the decision was made with less than 50 per cent of its members present means the party may reconsider its position, Shiha added.

Hassan, 75, announced on Wednesday his intention to join the presidential race that officially kicks off on Saturday.

Hassan is a veteran politician who served in key executive posts under the late president Anwar El-Sadat (who banned the Wafd party in 1978)  including being minister of state affairs for information and culture. He was reportedly considered by Sadat as a possible replacement for the then vice president Hosni Mubarak, before Sadat was assassinated by Islamists on 6 October, 1981.

In January there were reports of the launch of a media campaign in Hassan's hometown Sharqeya, to back him as Egypt's first president following the ouster of president Hosni Mubarak last year.

The Wafd Party won 38 seats (7.6 per cent) in Egypt's first parliamentary elections after the January 25 Revolution. The liberal party ranks third after the two Islamic parties, the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party and the Salafist Nour Party, who have won the largest portion of seats.

Egypt's first post-Mubarak presidential election will take place between 23 and 24 May. Registration for candidates will begin 10 March, allowing for one and a half months of campaigning.

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