Hamas leader to vote Islamist in Egypt presidential contest

Ahram Online, Monday 14 May 2012

Half-Egyptian member of Hamas' political office plans to give his vote to unnamed Islamist candidate in Egypt's upcoming presidential race

Mahmoud Al-Zahar (Photo: Reuters)

Mahmoud Al-Zahar, member of Palestinian resistance faction Hamas' politburo and an Egyptian citizen, has said that he would vote for an "Islamist candidate" – whose name he declined to disclose – in Egypt's first post-Mubarak presidential poll slated for later this month.

Al-Zahar, whose mother hails from the Egyptian city of Ismailiya, told the Al-Arabiya news website on Monday that he planned to come to Egypt to cast his ballot on 23/24 May.

"I will vote for an Islamist candidate because Egypt's next president should have a vision that extends beyond simply fixing the current situation," he said. "It's not out of partisanship or intolerance, but because the Islamic project is the most politically and economically comprehensive."

Egypt's three Islamist presidential frontrunners are the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi, renegade Islamist Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh and Islamic thinker and writer Mohamed Selim El-Awa.

"If Palestinians could vote, they would naturally cast ballots for the candidate who would best serve the Palestinian cause," Al-Zahar said.

Hamas, which has governed Palestine's Gaza Strip since 2007 (after sweeping democratic elections one year earlier), is affiliated with the Global Muslim Brotherhood organisation.

More than 11,000 Palestinians with Egyptian mothers hold Egyptian nationality, allowing them to vote in upcoming elections.

Egypt's first post-Mubarak presidential poll will be held on 23/24 May, with a runoff round on 16/17 June if no single candidate wins an outright majority. Egypt's next president will be formally named on 21 June.

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