Egyptian Electoral Commission Expected To Issue Candidates List
Egyptian electoral commission entrusted with screening the candidates for the presidential elections is expected to offer the final list of the candidates who will be allowed, according to the law, to participate in the elections set for May. The list will come to curve the confusion existing in the country that is expecting the first presidential elections in decades with enthusiasm, as 10 of the president hopeful have already been disqualified by a decision of the commission last week, three of them being frontrunners in the public preferences.
A recent opinion poll shows that the Egyptian people is very confused about the candidate to back, as 40 percent of the voting population said it did not know whom to vote, and 30 percent, who had already made an electoral decision, must now rethink it, because their candidate is no longer among those allowed to participate in the elections.
As the people can hardly find a candidate to vote for, campaigners of the disqualified candidates are accusing the electoral commission, which was appointed by the military council in power, of manipulating the candidacy to the highest office in order to allow the “remnants” of the previous regime, mainly the military, to remain in power.
Khairat el-Shater, former candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood’s proxy Justice and Freedom party, said that the revolution was “unfinished,” and called for the continuation of the struggle to oust Mubarak’s cronies from their offices.
The same was said by the supporters of the Salafist leader Hafez Abu Ismail, an Islamic scholar as the name recommends him, whose campaigners are still reported spreading fliers about their candidate, calling to oust the “remnants” from office.
The atmosphere of manipulating elections is entertained by the reasons that led to striking out el-Shater and Abu Ismail’s names of the candidates list: the former was disqualified because in his permanent criminal record he had the crime of belonging to “a banned group,” which is no other than the party that now has won the popular vote of the Egyptians and dominates the political landscape, the Muslim Brotherhood, while the latter was accused that his mother had an American citizenship, which according to the Egyptian law bars the way to presidency.
Abu Ismail’s rejection did not take into account the fact that the Interior Ministry issued a statement saying that there was not in the institution records any application for permission to have foreign citizenship from Abu Islam-s mother.
Which does not mean that she couldn’t have obtained it without notifying the Egyptian authorities, but it could mean, if one offers her the benefit of the doubt and the assumption that she was a good citizen, that she never did it.
The irony is that Abu Ismail is having an anti-American rhetoric and advocates the return of the Egyptians to the fundamental principles and laws of the Islamic culture. This could bring his voters to cast their ballots for the new nominee of the Muslim Brotherhood for the office of president: the leader of the Justice and Freedom party, Mohamed Morsi, depicted by an article in the New York Times as a man who had demanded the barring of women and non-Egyptian from presidency on the basis of the Shariah law.
Morsi is said to have demanded that the Parliament be advised by a council of Muslim scholars and to have made some inflammatory statements about Israel and its citizens, whom he called “killers and vampires.”
His candidacy comes at a time when Egypt terminated a contract to ship gas to Israel, a move which the Israeli cabinet is treating as a mere economic issue, but reflects the fact that the ties between the two countries are loosening since the emergence of the Islamic parties on the Egyptian political arena.
During his first rally, Mohamed Morsi urged the followers to chant “Quran is our constitution, Shariah is our guide!” and spoke of the “Islam is the solution” platform, which brings into question, a month before the vote is cast the place of Islam in the Egyptian society following the ouster of the Mubarak regime, which had ascribed no importance to the religious teachings in politics.
Morsi brands himself as the only Islamist in the presidential race, though he will face the competition from another Islamist, Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, who is said to be one of the former leaders of the Brotherhood, cast out of the political group because of his attachment to more liberal understanding of the role of Islam in society.
Fotouh is said to have been expelled from the Muslim Brotherhood last June, and is now the representative of liberal values in the race.
A third frontrunner, credited by many opinion polls as the leader in popularity, is former Foreign Minister and head of the Arab League Amr Moussa, who argued this week that that his country could not afford an experiment in Islamic democracy.
The president of the country is expected to be the one to offer the trend for Egypt’s future and to resolve the issues related to Egypt’s relation with the western world and the United States in particular, with Israel and even with the Christian community, which makes 10 percent of the country’s population.
It seems though that as the Islamists take power across the country the debate is not directed toward the above mentioned issues but rather toward the goals and agenda of the Islamist movement in the country.
The 84-year-old conservative Muslim Brotherhood movement has taken a softer approach on different issues, such as the Muslim clerical council to advise the parliament, the “Islam is the solution” slogan, and promised to observe the Camp David accord regulating the ties with Israel.
Morsi took a more radical stance on these issues than his predecessor el-Shater had, the businessman being known as a pragmatic politician with many friends in the Salafi movement and in the business world.
According to The New York Times, the president hopeful Mohamed Morsi campaigns with el-Shater, with their faces on the posters, which fuels the fear that he would be no more than a servant to el-Shater and the Brotherhood’s executive board.
The Egyptian society is however faced with a very difficult economic situation, which many analysts believe will result in a vote in favor of the candidate that can stabilize the economic problems the country has been having since the ouster of the former regime.11