Egyptian Presidential Candidates Announced, Constitutional Assembly Suspended
April 26, 2012
By: Rebecca Aaberg | Printer Friendly
On April 26, the Egyptian Electoral Commission published the final list of candidates accepted for the upcoming presidential race. Ten of the 23 original candidates have been disqualified for suspected criminal activity. The Egyptian Electoral Commission announced on April 17 that front runners Oman Suleiman, Khairat al-Shater, and Hazem Salah Abu Ismail will be prohibited from running in the elections. Islamist candidates have contested the decision, claiming that the ban is part of a “plot to bring back the former regime of Hosni Mubarak.” Egyptian law currently bans appeals on electoral commission decisions, though BBC reported that there are “strong hints” that Suileiman may be reinstated. The decision comes amid “deep unease about the impartiality of the electoral commission,” which is headed by former army officer and military court judge Farouk Sultan.
The commission rejected the candidacy of Suleiman, a former intelligence chief under Mubarak, because of issues with his list of endorsements. According to BBC, 30 of the 30,000 necessary signatures had “problems,” while Reuters reported that Suleiman fell short of the requirement by 100 signatures in one of the 15 provinces. Despite the irregularity, the government-owned newspaper al-Ahram reported that Suleiman leads the polls. BBC analysts suggested that this inconsistency shows “Suleiman has strong backing from a section of the ruling elite, though his standing with the ruling military council is still not clear.” Hisham Kassem, an Egyptian journalist and analyst, wrote that Suleiman has strong ties with the former Mubarak regime: “He is not only part of the former regime; he is probably the second most implicated person in the practices of the old regime after Mubarak himself.”
Muslim Brotherhood candidate Khairat al-Shater, disqualified because he had served time in prison, warned the Electoral Commission that supporters would demonstrate if he was not reinstated. The Muslim Brotherhood claims that Shater was held as a political prisoner and that his disqualification from the contest is part of a political maneuver on the part of the SCAF. Shater’s campaign manager, Murad Muhammed Ali, blamed holdovers from the Mubarak government, claiming that they are attempting to limit Egyptian democracy: “There is an attempt by the old Mubarak regime to hijack the last stage of this transitional period and reproduce the old system of governance.”
Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, a conservative Salafist candidate, was banned by the commission after speculation that his mother had travelled with an American passport. Under Egyptian law, neither candidates’ family members nor their spouses may hold foreign citizenship. In retaliation, Ismail “has threatened to reveal secrets about corruption in the government.” Ismail’s supporters have begun protesting his disqualification.
Additionally, parliament attempted to pass a law barring any potential candidates who had been president, vice-president, or prime minister under Mubarak during the last ten years. The Ministry of Justice has already released a statement declaring the law unconstitutional, and analysts assume the SCAF will block the law from passing.
The presidential elections are scheduled for May 23-24.
The recently elected Constituent Assembly has been suspended. The Administrative Court in Egypt did not release a statement after its decision, but the SCAF claimed that the assembly was not representative of the Egyptian population and that the assembly violated Article 60. The SCAF released a statement on the issue, saying that “a new constitutional declaration should be issued… specifying how the constituent assembly is formed. Article 60 of the current declaration was so vague that it has left the assembly in the hands of once force.” Women, minorities, and young people have little representation in the assembly, BBC reported. About 60 percent of members come from Islamist parties. Several secular and liberal parties had left the assembly, claiming that their support would only give the body “greater legitimacy.” It has also been boycotted by Al-Azhar University and the Coptic Orthodox Church. In response, the Islamist Freedom and Justice Party claimed that the Administrative Court had acted out a “political” decision in shutting the assembly down.
For previous news on Egypt, please see:
US Releases Egypt Aid, NGO Trial to Resume April 10
Associated Press – Egypt Presidential Race Narrowed to Thirteen Candidates
BBC – Egypt Election Bans Threaten Fresh Political Turmoil
BBC – Egypt MPs Bar Ex-Mubarak Presidential Candidates
Reuters – Egypt Disqualified Top Islamists, Mubarak VP from Vote