Farouq Sultan, head of Egypt's Supreme Presidential Elections Commission (SPEC), said on Thursday that he planned to take legal action against the Muslim Brotherhood's disqualified presidential candidate Khairat El-Shater for claiming that the SPEC was in ongoing communication with the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).
"The SPEC will take legal measures against any infringement of the commission's rights," said Sultan.
SPEC officials, meanwhile, dismiss El-Shater's assertions about its alleged relationship with the ruling military council.
"Our communications with the SCAF revolve around our requests for securing premises for the SPEC or for urging specialised entities to complete the commission's conditions – but this is only because the SCAF is Egypt's de facto ruler," said SPEC Secretary-General Hatem Bagato. "Talk about the military council's undue influence on SPEC decision-making, however, is nonsense."
El-Shater, second-in-command of the Muslim Brotherhood and the group's main financer, was officially disqualified from the race for the presidency on 17 April for legal reasons. The Brotherhood candidate was excluded along with nine other candidates, including Salafist frontrunner Hazem Abu-Ismail and ex-intelligence chief Omar Suleiman.
One day after his disqualification, El-Shater blasted the SPEC for refusing to acknowledge the fact that he had presented all legal documents needed to run for the presidency.
On Thursday, the SPEC announced its final list of approved presidential candidates.
Theoretically, the elections commission is an independent body, the decisions of which cannot be influenced by external authorities. Some critics, however, argue that Article 28 of the constitutional declaration – issued by the SCAF after last year's revolution and approved via popular referendum – grants the commission inordinate powers.
Final decisions issued by the SPEC, for example, cannot be appealed.