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Ex-Mubarak Spy Chief Shakes Egypt Vote

Published: 08/04/2012 04:18:12 PM GMT
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CAIRO - Egypt's former intelligence chief Omar Suleiman under deposed president Hosni Mubarak applied Sunday, April 8, for the country's presidential election, a move denounced as a coup against the revolution. The youth w (more)

CAIRO - Egypt's former intelligence chief Omar Suleiman under deposed president Hosni Mubarak applied Sunday, April 8, for the country's presidential election, a move denounced as a coup against the revolution.

"The youth will not let Omar Suleiman become president,” Mohamed Fahmy, a revolutionary socialist who played a role in galvanizing last year's protests, told Reuters.

“The revolution is still alive and we will march to Tahrir Square again if necessary.”

Suleiman, who Mubarak made vice president in the dying days of his three-decade rule, applied to join Egypt's presidential election on Sunday.

Ecstatic supporters cheered behind lines of military police as Suleiman arrived at the office of the state election committee in Cairo.

The former intelligence chief then handed in his candidacy documents, state news agency MENA reported, citing a committee official.

Committee General Secretary Hatem Bagato "acknowledged that the papers included certified backing from citizens above the minimum required, which is at least 30,000," the agency said.

Suleiman announced he planned to run on Friday, shortly after the Muslim Brotherhood, long suppressed under Mubarak's regime, unveiled a candidate to run in the polls.

In a statement circulated by his campaign aides, Suleiman said public demand had persuaded him to run if he could obtain the necessary registration of 30,000 supporters.

"The very idea that he (Suleiman) is running is presumptuous. He should be in prison,” pro-democracy activist and commentator Nawara Negm told Reuters.

Activists have poked fun at Suleiman's candidacy, saying his campaign had adopted the slogan "You are all Khaled Said", a mock reference to the Facebook group whose page "We are all Khaled Said" helped kindle the uprising that ousted Mubarak.

Brotherhood Back-up

Scrambled to prevent a return of ex-Mubarak officials to power, the powerful Muslim Brotherhood decided to field a “back-up” candidate in the election.

"There are attempts to create barriers for some candidates," the Muslim Brotherhood said in a statement.

"Because we are protecting the success of the revolution and all of its goals … we have decided as the Brotherhood and its party to nominate Mohammed Mursi as our back up candidate for president.”

The Muslim Brotherhood has earlier fielded its deputy leader and businessman Khairat Al-Shater. But legal obstacles might bar him from running for the post.

Shater was convicted in 2007 by Mubarak's government of having provided military training to university students, a charge he denies.

Egypt's ruling military council has not pardoned him, which could disqualify him from running.

"The FJP's leader Muhamed Mursi, will submit an application to enter Egypt's presidential race. Mursi will act as a backup candidate in case Khairat Shater's candidacy is rejected," a member of Shater's campaign told Reuters.

"Should Shater's documents get accepted, Mursi will pull out of the race. If Khairat is rejected, Mursi will continue in the race.”

A Cairo court on Saturday barred yet another candidate, liberal Ayman Nour, from running, saying he had been accused in a case and was still in the process of getting a pardon on health grounds.

Nour came a distant second to Mubarak in a 2005 election, but a few months later was sentenced to five years in prison on charges of forgery that were widely viewed as trumped up as part of a political vendetta.

In late March, Nour said the country's military rulers had lifted the ban preventing him from running for the presidency.

Salafi candidate Hazem Salah Abu-Ismail is also expected to be disqualified from the presidential race over his mother's dual nationality.

Egypt's electoral commission said Saturday it had received verification that Abu-Ismail's mother had US citizenship, a status that would likely disqualify him from the race.

Abu Ismail has emerged as one of the frontrunners.

The commission said it had received a letter from the Foreign Ministry informing it that Nawal Abdel-Aziz, mother of Hazem Abu Ismail, obtained American nationality on October 25, 2006.

The commission would give a verdict on Abu Ismail's eligibility after the Sunday deadline for all presidential candidates to submit their applications to run.

Abu-Ismail's campaign denied in an emailed statement to Reuters on Saturday that his mother had any citizenship other than Egyptian, accusing the United States of having presented forged documents to the Egyptian government.Thousands of his supporters demonstrated the day before against what they called an official plot to stop the ultraconservative sheikh contesting the vote.

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