All you need to know about Egypt's presidential candidates

Ahram Online, Monday 9 Apr 2012

Ahram Online presents a complete list of the 23 presidential hopefuls who have applied to become candidates in the presidential elections. The Supreme Presidential Electoral Commission will rule on their eligibility on 26 April

Egyptians vote in parliamentary elections 2011 (Photo: Reuters)

1. Amr Moussa

Amr Moussa

Moussa, a career diplomat and politician, is one of the front-runners in the presidential race.

Born in 1936 in Cairo, he earned a degree in law from Cairo University in 1957, and began his diplomatic career shortly following his graduation.

Moussa held the volatile position of minister of foreign affairs from 1991 to 2001. He was then removed from his post by former president Mubarak and made the secretary-general of the Arab League, a position he held until 2011.



2. Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh

Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh

Abul-Fotouh is a prominent Islamist activist and a former member of the Muslim Brotherhood.

He was born in 1951 in Cairo. Abul-Fotouh graduated from medical school at Cairo University in 1976, where he was one of the most prominent leaders of the 1970s student movement.

He served in the guidance office of the Brotherhood, the highest executive body of the group, from 1987 to 2009. He was also jailed three times during his years as a Brotherhood member.

He was dismissed from the Brotherhood after the January 25 revolution, when he announced his decision to run for president despite the group’s decision not to field a candidate in the first post-Mubarak presidential elections.

The Brotherhood has since changed its stance and decided to field a presidential candidate, but not Abul-Fotouh.



3. Mohamed Selim El-Awa

Mohamed Selim El-Awa

El-Awa is an Islamic thinker, writer and prominent commercial litigator.

He was born in Alexandria in 1942 and obtained a doctorate in philosophy from London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in 1972, for a comparative study of systems of punishment in Islamic and English legal systems. He also holds diplomas in public and Islamic law.

El-Awa has published numerous books, as well as papers and newspaper articles.

His father was among the disciples of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hassan El-Banna. He was arrested in 1965 by former president Gamal Abdel-Nasser during a clampdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, and charged with being a member of a banned group.

During the Mubarak era, he also defended a number of Brotherhood members imprisoned by the Mubarak regime. He was a staunch critic of Mubarak’s plan to hand over power to his son Gamal.



4. Mortada Mansour

Mortada Mansour

Mansour is a controversial lawyer and former member of parliament.

Born in Shubra El-Kheima in Cairo in 1952, Mansour is famous for the numerous lawsuits he has filed against his enemies. He was also the former president of the Zamalek Sporting Club.

Mansour is one of the founders of the Egypt National Party, along with fellow controversial media personality Tawfik Okasha.

Mansour is one of the main suspects in the "Battle of the Camel" trial, when protesters in Tahrir Square were attacked by thugs on camels during the uprising against Mubarak. Mansour is currently on trial for his involvement in events, along with 25 members of the Mubarak regime.


5. Ayman Nour

Ayman Nour

Nour is a prominent lawyer, journalist and founder of the liberal Ghad Al-Thawra party.

He was jailed in December 2005 shortly after he finished second to deposed president Mubarak in Egypt's first multi-candidate presidential elections. He was accused of forging documents to licence his political party. Nour, however, insisted that the case against him was fabricated to ruin his political future because he was a threat to Gamal Mubarak’s plan to inherit power from his father.

In February 2009, he was released because of health problems. Because of his conviction, he was banned from running for office or enjoying any political rights.

In March 2012, he was given a pardon by the army, allowing him to run for the presidency despite his criminal record.


6. Hossam Khairallah

Hossam Khairallah

Khairallah is a former deputy director of intelligence.

He comes from a long line of security officers: his father is Major-General Ahmed Hossam Khairallah, founder of Egypt’s Central Security Agency, former Cairo security director, former governor of Aswan, and former deputy prime minister.

Khairallah’s career has been marked by many accomplishments in the field of national security. He served as an officer in the Egyptian armed forces until the mid-1970s, when he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant-general in the paramilitary troops. He subsequently left the military to work at Egypt’s Intelligence Agency, where he eventually reached the position of information director with the rank of agency first deputy.

In 2005, he retired after 20 years of service.



7. Mahmoud Hossam

Mahmoud Hossam

Hossam was born in Alexandria in 1964. His father and grandfather both served in the armed forces.

He graduated from the Police Academy in 1958, and held several police posts. He worked at the UN Middle Eastern human rights department from 1992 to 1994.


8. Mohamed Fawzy

Mohamed Fawzy

Mohamed Fawzy was born in 1945 and has a law degree from Ain Shams University. He also has a diploma in police sciences from the Police Academy.

He began his career as a police officer in the Abdeen police station in Cairo. He then worked in the investigations department in the village of Naga Hammadi in Upper Egypt and later became the head of the Council in the city of Salamout.


9. Ashraf Barouma

Ashraf Barouma

Ashraf Barouma holds a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering and is the CEO of a Gulf development and training company.

He was born in 1968. Barouma is the candidate presented by the Egypt Kanana Party.


10. Abu El-Ezz El-Hariri

Abu El-Ezz El-Hariri

El-Harriri is a member of parliament, socialist and labour activist with a career spanning 45 years. He has a long record of fighting for social justice.

He was born in 1944 in the Daqahliya governorate in the Nile Delta. He graduated from a technical industrial high school in 1962 and began work at the state-owned National Textile Company in Alexandria.

El-Hariri joined the state-controlled Arab Socialist Union and the Youth Organisation in 1966, under the Nasser regime that had banned all independent political parties in the 1950s. After Nasser's death, El-Hariri joined the Tagammu Party in 1976.

The same year, he became Egypt's youngest MP when he won a seat in the industrial constituency of Karmouz in Alexandria on a Tagammu ticket.

His parliamentary immunity was lifted in 1977 due to his involvement in labour strikes.

He was arrested five times during the Sadat era due to his labour activism and his opposition to the 1978 Camp David Accords.

After the ousting of former president Mubarak, El-Hariri was one of 57 founding members of the Socialist Popular Alliance Party (SPAP), the first leftist party to be legally recognised after Egypt's revolution in March 2011.



11. Mamdouh Qutb

Mamdoud Qutb

Qutb is a 57-year-old former president of the Egypt's general intelligence services. He also served in the military from 1975 to 1982.

In addition, Qutb worked as the head of the aid sector of the Masr El-Kheir charity.

Since 2 February 2011, he has supervised the medical treatment of the injured of the revolution, as well as providing assistance to the families of martyrs.

Through the Masr El-Kheir charity he has provided medical, educational and social services to 100,000 families since 2009.

12. Omar Suleiman

Omar Suleiman

Omar Suleiman was Egyptian general intelligence chief during the Mubarak era, a position he held from 1993 to 2011. He also served briefly as Mubarak’s vice president during the 18 day uprising.

Suleiman was born in 1939 in the governorate of Qena. He graduated from the Military Academy in 1945, and studied political science in Ain Shams University and Cairo University. He also received military training in the Soviet Union.

During his years as Egypt’s top “spy chief,” Soliman’s name was tied to many human rights abuses, including the notorious CIA rendition programme through which suspected terrorists were sent to Egypt for questioning.

Although Suleiman had earlier declared that he would not be running for office, he announced that he had changed his mind after having been urged by thousands of supporters – who staged pro-Suleiman demonstrations on Friday in the Cairo district of Abbasiya – to contest Egypt's first post-Mubarak presidential race.


13. Ahmed Shafiq

Ahmed Shafiq

A former commander of the Egyptian Air Force, diplomat and politician, Ahmed Shafiq was a long-time minister in Mubarak's government and served for 33 days as the last prime minister in the final stretch of the rule of the ousted president.

Born in 1941 in Cairo, Shafiq graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1961. Shafiq holds a master’s degree in military sciences and a doctorate in military strategy.

He fought in the 1973 Arab-Israeli war as a senior fighter pilot under the command of Mubarak, the commander of the airforce at the time, and is said to have downed two Israeli warplanes.

After the 25 January revolution began, Mubarak hired Shafiq as prime minister in an attempt to calm the protests in the streets. However, revolutionaries quickly turned againt him for his lack of sympathetic attitude to their plight and demanded that he be removed. A few weeks after Mubarak was ousted, Shafiq resigned from his post as prime minister.

In December 2011, he announced his intention to run for president.


14. Khaled Ali

Khaled Ali

A renowned lawyer and activist, Khaled Ali has made a name for himself promoting social justice and defending the rights of workers, peasants and students over the course of the last two decades.

Born in1972 in the Nile Delta governorate of Daqahliya, Ali graduated from Zagazig University’s law faculty in 1995.

In 2009, Ali founded the Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR), a prominent human and labour rights advocacy group of which he was director until February of this year. He resigned his post at the ECESR, however, upon announcing his intention to run for Egypt’s presidency.

Ali has achieved a number of notable victories as a lawyer. Most famously, in March 2010, he obtained a landmark ruling in a class-action lawsuit that mandated an LE1,200 minimum wage for public-sector workers.

At 40 years old, Ali is the youngest presidential candidate.



15. Khairat El Shater

Khairat El Shater

Khairat El-Shater is the deputy leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and is the group’s official candidate for the presidential elections.

The multi-millionaire El-Shater is known as "the engineer” and is believed to be the man who really runs the Brotherhood. He has an engineering bachelor's from the University of Alexandria and holds a diploma in Islamic studies.

El-Shater was imprisoned and had his property confiscated six times during his political career.

He has built a personal fortune, some of it in partnership with Hassan Malek, a businessman from a Brotherhood family. The two formed a computer information systems company, Salsabeel, which Mubarak’s security apparatus raided in 1991.

El-Shater was serving time in prison when the uprising against Mubarak erupted. He was released by the ruling military council less than a month after Mubarak’s ousting.

Even though the Brotherhood had initially insisted that they do not plan to field a presidential candidate in this election, they changed their mind, claiming that the political climate has altered and they need their own candidate.



16. Mohamed Morsi

Mohamed Morsi

Mohamed Morsi is the president of the Muslim Brotherhood’s first political party, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP). The party was licensed following the ousting of Mubarak.

The Brotherhood announced that Morsi is the Brotherhood’s “backup” candidate in case El-Shater’s application is rejected because of his criminal record.

Morsi is a prominent member of the Brotherhood and was a member of their Guidance Bureau and their official spokesperson. He left his position in the guidance bureau after he became the president of the party.

He was born in 1951 in the Sharqiya governorate. He earned an engineering degree in 1972, followed by a master's from Cairo University. He currently works as a professor in the University of Zagazig.

He won a seat in parliament in 2000. He ran again in 2005 but lost.


17. Hamdeen Sabbahi

Hamdeen Sabbahi

Hamdeen Sabbahi is a Nasserist opposition figure and former member of the People's Assembly.

Born in 1954 in the Delta governorate of Kafr El-Sheikh, Sabbahi studied mass communication at Cairo University.

A politically active student, Sabbahi was elected head of the Cairo University Student Union in 1975 and served as deputy chair of the General Federation of Students from 1975 to 1977.

He established the political Nasserist Thought Club to mobilise on Cairo University’s campus in defence of the principles of Abdel-Nasser's 1952 revolution in a context of later rapprochement efforts with the West by then-president Anwar El-Sadat.

In 1977, following the January popular uprising against president Sadat over skyrocketing food prices, Sabbahi publicly confronted the president in a televised meeting in which he spoke on behalf of the Cairo University Student Union. As a result, Sadat prohibited Sabbahi from working as a journalist in the state media sector for several years.

Sabbahi’s membership in the Arab Democratic Nasserist Party was suspended in 1994 due to internal conflicts between the party's young cadres – including Sabbahi – and the party's old guard of personalities who had been close to late president Nasser.

In 1996 Sabbahi founded the Arab Nasserist Karama party, and was twice elected to the People's Assembly - in 2000 and 2005.

Sabbahi was jailed several times over the course of his political career.

In 2003, as a sitting MP, his parliamentary immunity was lifted and he was subsequently jailed for his involvement in organising demonstrations against the US-led war on Iraq that year.



18. Hossam Khairat

Hossam Khairat

Hossam Khairat is the candidate of the Egypt Arab Socialist Party.


19. Hisham El-Bastawisi

Hisham El-Bastawisi

Hisham El-Bastawisi was born in 1951 in Cairo. He graduated with a law degree from Cairo University in 1976.

He worked for eight years as a deputy prosecutor at the customs authority and the minors authority in Alexandria. In 1988 he became a judge in the Cassation Court.

El-Bastawisi was a key figure in the reformist Independence of the Judiciary movement, and played an important role in the confrontation between judges and the Mubarak regime when judges refused to supervise the 2005 elections which they described as fraudulent.

As a result of his oppositional views towards the regime, in 2006 Justice Minister Mahmoud Abul-Leil ordered him and a colleague, Mahmoud Mekki, to appear before a disciplinary tribunal, which El-Bastawisi described as an unconstitutional procedure.

El-Bastawisi is running under the endorsement of the leftist Tagammu Party.



20. Hazem Salah Abu-Ismail

Hazem Salah Abu-Ismail

Abu-Ismail is a prominent Salafist preacher, lawyer and politician.

He was born in 1961 in Giza and graduated with a law degree in 1982. He was deeply involved in student politics, and has long been a staunch critic of US policy in the region, both in secondary school and university.

He ran for the parliamentary elections twice in 1995 and then in 2005 but lost both times, losses he blamed on election-rigging.  

After 2005 he remained largely inactive and he instead relied on his preaching at the Assad Bin El-Forat Mosque in Cairo.

Abu-Ismail repeatedly criticised the Mubarak regime's record on human rights and defended several members of the Muslim Brotherhood – outlawed at the time – who faced military tribunals under the then-ruling regime, such as the deputy supreme guide of the group, Khairat El-Shater.

He also advocated against the regime in several high-profile legal cases, including one aimed at halting the export of Nile water to Israel and the legal defence of Suleiman Khater – the Egyptian soldier who killed four Israelis in the Sinai Peninsula in 1986 and was later found dead in prison under suspicious circumstances – among other cases.

Abu-Ismail faces a high possibility of being disqualified from the race due to recent reports, confirmed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, that his late mother held US citizenship.



21. Ibrahim Ahmed El-Gharib

Ibrahim Ahmed El-Gharib

Ibrahim Ahmed El-Gharib was born in 1955 in the Menoufiya governorate, and he worked as a school teacher for a number of years.

He is running as an independent candidate, who filed papers with 32,000 endorsements.

In 2010, he won a parliamentary seat as an independent candidate.


22. Ahmed Awad Ali

Ahmed Awad Ali

Ahmed Awad Ali was a state director of antiquities in central Upper Egypt.

He was the first candidate to present his papers at the Supreme Presidential Electoral Commission, doing so with the backing of Egypt National Party, of which he is a board member.

The party however later changed its course, deciding to support controversial lawyer Mortada Mansour as their candidate instead.


23. Abdallah El-Ashaal

Abdallah El-Ashaal

Abdullah El-Ashaal was born in 1945 in the Sharqiya governorate and graduated from the faculty of economics and political science at Cairo University. He later studied law at Alexandria University and earned a doctorate in international law

He entered the foreign service in 1968, serving in Bahrain, Jeddah, Riyadh, Nigeria and Greece. He also held a number of positions within the ministry, including serving as head of the strategic planning committee.

He has authored 66 books covering a range of issues from politics, law and religion.    

On 3 April, however, El-Ashaal announced his decision to withdraw from the race out of respect for the Muslim Brotherhood's decision to endorse Khairat El-Shater.

He has since however retracted his original position and continued to run based on an endorsement from the Salafist Asala party, gained on the last day before the deadline, 7 April.  

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