Presidential hopefuls rally around single candidate to combat old regime

Salma Shukrallah , Tuesday 10 Apr 2012

Former vice president Omar Suleiman's presidential bid triggers cooperation between 'pro-revolution' candidates, who agree on joint campaigns to prevent former regime figures from running for presidency

Presidential hopefuls form coalition against regime remnants (Photo: Mai Shaheen)

Presidential hopefuls assembled in the Wasat Party headquarters on Monday, to announce they are working together to unite pro-revolutionary movements around a single candidate in order to combat remnants of the old regime running in the presidential race. This, they stated, will avoid splitting the vote and bring about the goals of the revolution.

The meeting came after former head of intelligence and Mubarak’s vice president Omar Suleiman, submitted his presidential papers on Sunday, a move which many saw as a serious threat to the ongoing revolution.  

Presidential hopefuls attending the meeting included former foreign minister and head of the Arab League Amr Moussa, prominent Islamic thinker Mohamed Selim El-Awa, liberal figure Ayman Nour and Judge Hisham El-Bastawisi. Leftist candidate Abu El-Ezz El-Hariri and former Brotherhood figure Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh sent representatives instead.

Meanwhile, Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsi as well as leftist candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi failed to show up, despite having been invited.

According to head of the moderate Islamist Wasat Party, Abul-Ela Maadi, who was chairing the meeting, Morsi informed them he would be sending a representative but did not. Other figures attending the meeting included well-known Nasserist political thinker Hamdi Qandil.

The attendees agreed on several points, all aimed at ensuring fair elections free from former regime players. They will be campaigning in favour of a draft "Disenfranchisement Law" presented by Wasat Party Member of Parliament (MP) Essam Sultan, during a parliamentary session on Sunday.

The legislation, which is expected to be discussed in parliament on Tuesday, would ban remnants of the former regime from state positions, including presidency.

Maadi explained that anyone who has worked in a senior position within Mubarak's government over the past five years would be considered one of the ousted regime and so candidates would campaign to prevent them from running. This draft legislation would mainly apply to two candidates: Omar Suleiman and former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq.

The legality of all presidential candidate recommendations forms, said Maadi, will also be revised, as they have been documented by employees of the police and the army. Any presidential candidate requires recommendations of 30,000 voters from at least 15 Egyptian governorates (or provinces) with no less than 1000 recommendations per governorate.

Alternatively they can secure the support of 30 elected MPs or be nominated by a party holding at least one seat in the parliament. The 30,000 recommendations must be officially documented by special public notary offices affiliated to the Ministry of Justice.

The plan for the coming period would be to get all “pro-revolution” candidates working together on a joint national project that would bring about the goals of the revolution. A committee formed of three members, including Hatem Azzam a member of liberal al-Hadara Party, Maadi and Qandil, is to coordinate between the different candidates.   

Abul-Fotouh announced Monday evening via his Twitter account, that he agreed with the initiative as "everyone everyone should unite under a candidate in order to be able to continue the path of the revolution."

However, despite expectations, the candidates failed to agree on one pro-revolutionary candidate to rally against Suleiman.

Bastawisi stated it would be too soon to make such a move, considering that the list of eligible candidates will not be declared before 26 April. However, he said that the proposal to agree on one sole candidate met considerable approval from amongst the assembled group.

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