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Egypt President…Islamist or Liberal

Published: 10/05/2012 04:18:06 PM GMT
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CAIRO - Egypt is preparing to go to election this month to elect a successor to toppled president Hosni Mubarak.A list of 13 candidates is vying in the May election to assume the helm of power in the Arab world's most popu (more)

CAIRO - Egypt is preparing to go to election this month to elect a successor to toppled president Hosni Mubarak.

A list of 13 candidates is vying in the May election to assume the helm of power in the Arab world's most populous country. gives its audience a preview of leading candidates in the race for Egypt's presidency.

Amr Moussa

Former Arab League chief Amr Moussa is seen as a front-runner to become Egypt's new president.

Moussa has unveiled a detailed, 80-page program outlining steps to eradicate illiteracy and drive growth.

For the first 100 days, his plan includes scrapping a hated state of emergency that was in place throughout Mubarak's three decades in power, restoring order and injecting cash to kick start the economy.

The former foreign minister also pledges to form a national security council, which would include among its members top military officers, a move seen as aiming to reassure the army.

He, however, insists that the generals who have ruled since Mubarak's ouster last year will no longer be in charge after they formally hand power to the next president.

Moussa is a well-known figure on the world stage and could prove a reassuring presence for Western nations wary of the rise of Islamists in the Arab world's most populous state.

Like other candidates, Moussa has pledged to uphold Egypt's 1979 peace treaty with Israel, despite criticism of the Israeli government.

But critics say that Moussa, a self-described liberal nationalist, is a relic from Mubarak's era.

Moussa served under Mubarak as foreign minister in 1991, a post he held for 10 years.

During his tenure as the country's top diplomat, Moussa rose to popularity due to his frequent sharp criticism of US support for Israel and Israel's treatment of the Palestinians.

Egyptians were excited to see Moussa in 2000 ferociously arguing with then Israeli foreign minister Shlomo Ben-Ami in defense of the Palestinians in a US television debate aired on Egypt's state television.

Moussa's popularity boomed as Egyptian popular singer Shaaban Abdel Rahim released a hit song titled "I hate Israel and I love Amr Moussa".

In 2001, Moussa was picked by Mubarak for the post of the pan-Arab body's chief, a decision many Egyptians believed that it was motivated by Mubarak's desire to remove him from the public spotlight.

Abdel-Moneim Abul-Futuh

Former Muslim Brotherhood leader Abdel-Moneim Abul-Futuh is among leading candidates for Egypt's presidency.

Appealing to both Islamists and liberals, Abul-Futuh presents himself as a champion of moderate Islam.

Campaigning under the slogan "Strong Egypt", he underlines the need to finish Egypt's unfinished revolution by rooting out Mubarak's remnants from the state.

He pledges to increase health and education spending, to make Egypt's army the most powerful in the region and to turn its economy into one of the 20 strongest in the world.

His program says he will adhere to Islamic Shari`ah.

A doctor by profession, Abul-Futuh holds an MA in hospital management and an LLM from Cairo University's Faculty of Law.

He was a member of the Brotherhood's Shura Council, but was sacked last year over his decision to run for presidency.

Abul-Futuh won strong support among young Egyptians over his criticism of the ruling military rulers over mismanaging the transitional period after Mubarak's fall.

His campaign for full civilian control of the military and the protection of civil liberties has also given him a strong backing among young Islamists and liberals alike.

As a student leader in the 1970s, Abul-Futuh is remembered for confronting president Anwar Sadat in a debate, famously telling him he was surrounded by hypocrites.

In 1981, he was arrested by the Sadat government in a crackdown against dissidents.

Under Mubarak, his activism landed him in jail twice for a total of more than six years.

Mohamed Mursi

Mohamed Mursi, leader of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, is a frontrunner to become Egypt's new president.

He was thrust into the race after the disqualification of the Brotherhood's main candidate Khairat Al-Shater.

Mursi promises to bring security, stability, justice and prosperity to Egypt after three decades of dictatorship under Mubarak.

He champions the Brotherhood's program for achieving “renaissance” in Egypt after Mubarak's fall.

On Israel's relations, Mursi says he will keep Egypt's 1979 peace treaty with the Jewish state, but will not meet Israeli officials. He has promised to prioritize the Palestinian issue.

Mursi is remembered by many Egyptians for his impassioned speech lambasting official incompetence behind Egypt's worst rail disaster in 2002, which brought a rare flash of excitement to a rubber-stamp parliament stuffed with Mubarak supporters.

He lost his seat in the next election in 2005.

Having a Ph.D. in engineering from the University of South California, Mursi was a spokesman of the Brotherhood's political wing for the past decade.

Like other top Brotherhood officials, he tends to hedge his policy preferences within the general conviction that a more pious society will be a more successful, less corrupt one, while reassuring the country's large Christian minority that their rights will be protected.

Brotherhood colleagues may see Mursi as a safe pair of hands given his background as a spokesman and electoral strategist for the movement, which spent years skirting a ban from official politics by fielding its candidates as independents.

Mohamed Selim Al-Awa

Among front-runners in Egypt's presidential election is Muslim thinker Mohamed Selim Al-Awa.

Campaigning under the slogan “With Justice Egypt Lives”, Awa calls for a civil state in Egypt with Islamic reference.

His program calls for enforcing law, increasing health and education spending and re-invigorating Egypt's economy.

He pledges to uphold Egypt's 1979 peace treaty with Israel as long as the Jewish state respects it.

A graduate of the Faculty of Law, Alexandria University, Awa is one of Egypt's most acknowledged lawyers with specialization in constitutional law.

His book, Fil Nizam Al-Siyasi lil Dawla Al-Islamiya (On the Political System of the Islamic State), is one of the most comprehensive studies of the concept of the Islamic state and rule.

Awa obtained two diplomas in usul al-fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) and was appointed at the office of the prosecutor-general and then enrolled as a PhD student at Alexandria University.

But he lost his job over allegations that he was a member of the then banned Muslim Brotherhood in 1965.

Later, Awa gained a place at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, as a PhD candidate.

He earned his degree in 1972 for a comparative study of systems of penalties in Islamic and Anglo-Saxon legal systems.

Awa later moved to the Gulf where he helped establish departments of law at several universities before returning to Egypt in 1985 to teach constitutional law at Zaqaziq University.

Emerging as a public figure who sought to apply Islam's message to contemporary issues, Awa got involved in several public activities and debates as part of a long process of research into the meaning of state in the Islamic political thought.

Awa authored several books tackling how to reform Islamic thought and institutions.

For example, his book Azmat Al-Mu'assasa Al-Diniya (The Crisis of the Religious Establishment) offers a critical approach to the state of Egypt's religious establishments -- Al-Azhar, Al-Awqaf (Ministry of Religious Endowments) and Dar Al-Iftaa.

His 1998 award-winning book, Al- Fiqh Al-Islami fi Tariq Al-Tajdeed(Islamic Jurisprudence on the Path of Renewal), earned him the title of the Arab thinker of the year back then.

Ahmed Shafiq

Former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq is among hopefuls to become Egypt's new president after Mubarak's fall.

Shafiq was Mubarak's last premier when the toppled president appointed him in the final days of his rule in a last-ditch attempt to placate protesters. He lasted about three weeks after Mubarak fell.

A former Air Force commander, Shafiq served in wars with Israel and is credited with shooting down an Israeli aircraft in the 1973 war.

He has pledged to uphold Egypt's peace deal with Israel, but criticizes Israeli policies.

When he led the Air Force in the 1990s, Shafiq sought to acquire more advanced weapons and make the force more modern.

But Egyptian officials say Washington, which provides Egypt with $1.3 billion in annual aid in the wake of the peace deal with Israel, opposed some of the plans because of Israel's objections.

As minister of civil aviation, a post he held from 2002 to 2011, Shafiq won a reputation for efficiency as he successfully oversaw the modernization of state airline EgyptAir and improvements to the country's airports.

Shafiq is seen by supporters as a capable man to restore order after 14 months of turmoil.

Opponents, however, see him as leftover from Mubarak's regime and mock him as the "candy man" for once suggesting anti-Mubarak protesters should be offered sweets during demonstrations.

Hamdeen Sabbahi

Left-wing candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi is among candidates for Egypt's presidency.

A founder and leader of the Nasserist Al-Karama (Dignity) party, Sabbahi was a vocal opponent to the Mubarak's regime.

A politically active student, he was a staunch defender of the 1952 revolution of late president Gamal Abdel-Nasser.

His political activism led him to be banned from working as a journalist under former president Anwar Sadat.

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 jailed for organizing demonstrations against the US-led war on Iraq that year.

He runs in the election under the slogan “One of Us”, which highlights his strong ties with the working class and advocates his socialist aspirations.

Hesham El-Bastawisi

Among candidates for Egypt's presidency is reformist judge Hesham El-Bastawisi.

A candidate of the left-wing Tagamua Party, Bastawisi is known for his strong opposition to the Mubarak's regime.

He has been a vocal champion for judiciary independence in Egypt.

Bastawisi is known for his decision to cancel elections held under the Mubarak's regime over widespread rigging.

In 1982, he canceled the election in his the district of Menya al-Basal in Alexandria over security intervention and rigging.

He recounted in recent interviews how he got a phone call from a judicial source with a special pleading from Mubarak to reverse his decision, but he refused to comply.

In 2003, Bastawisi, in his capacity as deputy head of the Court of Cassation, annulled the election in the district of Zaytoun, in which former Presidential Chief of Staff Zakariya Azmy, one of the most prominent figures of the Mubarak's regime, had won through rigging. Again, state pressure was not able to convince Bastawisi to reverse his ruling.

However, Bastawisi is seen as lacking political experience to become a president of the heavyweight Arab country.

Khaled Ali

A labor and human rights lawyer, Khaled Ali is the youngest candidate for Egypt's presidency.

A candidate of the Social Democratic Party, the 40-year-old was a vocal opponent of the Mubarak's regime.

The leftist candidate is known for his staunch defense of the rights of workers and students.

He was a founding member of several NGOs to defend the people's rights, including the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights.

He has grass-roots support among Egypt's workers over his campaign for independent trade unionism and labor rights.

In the dying days of the Mubarak's regime, Ali was arrested by security forces on charges of organizing illegal revolutionary activities.

Ali has been at the forefront of figures demanding the realization of the goals of the January revolution.

He campaigns for empowering Egypt's workers, employees and farmers, establishing cooperatives to increase Egypt's agricultural lands, reclaiming desert lands, and realizing self-sufficiency in agricultural production.

His platform also calls for progressive taxation, the equitable redistribution of land, natural resources and national wealth.

Ali also campaigns for the provision of free education, as a key mechanism by which to eradicate illiteracy and lift tens of millions of Egyptians out of poverty and unemployment.

Abul-Ezz El-Hariri

Socialist candidate Abul-Ezz El-Hariri is also running in Egypt's presidential election.

A candidate of the Socialist Popular Alliance Party, Hariri is hailed as a staunch defender of the rights of workers and impoverished people.

During Mubarak's era, Hariri was a vocal critic of what he termed the “marriage between politics and capital.”

The candidate is known for his criticism of Egypt's ruling military council, accusing military rulers of staging a “counter revolution” and calling for the junta to join Mubarak behind bars.

Hariri is also a harsh critic of Islamists, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood, accusing Islamist groups of using religion to make political gains.

Hariri pledges to establish new commercial and transportation hubs, with a navigable canal between Taba and El-Arish, as well as mega projects to help accelerate Egypt's development.

Other candidates The list of hopefuls for Egypt's presidency includes other low-profiles candidates, including former intelligence officer Hossam Khairallah, former police officer Mohamed Fawzy, former diplomat Abdullah Al-Ash'al and Egypt Kanana party candidate Mahmoud Hossam.

Reproduced with permission from