Presidential Campaign - 2011-2012
|28 May 2012 Round 1|
|Abdel Monem Aboul Foutouh||horse||4,065,239|
|Mohammed Salim el-Awwa||umbrella||235,374|
|Abul Ezz al-Hariri||pyramid||40,090|
|Mohammed Fawzy Essa||video camera||23,889|
Now that President Hosni Mubarak was gone, the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest opposition group, said it will register as a legitimate political party once party restrictions are lifted. But it initially said it would not field a candidate in the next presidential election. While the specter of an MB presidency haunted secular Egyptians, it initially seemed unlikely in the immediate post-Mubarak period. Under the legal framework established by Mubarak, the MB had no ability to put forward a presidential candidate in the event of an election.
The organization did not appear to have the organized military wing necessary should it wish to attempt to seize the presidency by force. Constant oversight of the armed forces aimed at rooting out potential Islamist sympathizers meant that few likely remain, although the possibility did exist that some close-mouthed MB-leaning officers were present. Overall, in the view of most Egyptian analysts, the group's approach initially seemed to be one of patience and grass roots building of support, waiting for the day when it might come to power through popular election, or by popular demand after another presidency has foundered.
A number of the revolutionary youth groups leading the protests proposed in mid-2011 that opposition leader and Nobel Peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei head an interim civilian administration with deputies from across the political spectrum. The proposed body would replace the ruling military council in supervising Egypt's transition to democracy. ElBaradei said he would abandon his bid for Egypt's presidency if formally asked to lead such a government.
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces held talks 25 November 2011 with ElBaradei and another presidential hopeful, former Arab League chief Amr Moussa. Both said only that they discussed ways to end the current crisis. The meetings came as nearly 10,000 people packed central Cairo to continue protests against Egypt's interim military rulers and the appointment of caretaker Prime Minister Kamal el-Ganzouri, a bureaucrat seen as serving the military council.
The two most well-known figures in Egypt, after President Mubarak, were Mohammed ElBaradei and Amr Moussa, so it was natural to hear talk of their possible candidacies. But by early 2012 Muslim Brotherhood politicians dominated both houses of parliament, after initially pledging to contest a minority of seats, and the prospect of an executive branch under the group's control raised fears that the country had ousted one authoritarian government only to replace it with another.
As of 02 April 2012 the Higher Presidential Elections Commission (HPEC) had received from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Interior's Travel Documents, Immigration and Nationality Administration (TDINA) an official response about the nationality of the first five candidates who had officially filed their candidacy papers. The five candidates are Amr Moussa (independent), Ahmed Awad el-Saidi (Egyptian National Party), Abu Ezz al-Hariri (People's Alliance Party), Hossam Khair Allah (Social Peace Party) and Mohammed Fawzi (Generation Party, Geel). The five candidates, their wives and parents held the Egyptian nationality only and have never held the citizenship of any other State. At that time the HPEC was waiting for the official response about the other four candidates: Hazem Abu Ismail (independent), Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh (independent), Mahmoud Hosam and Hisham al-Bastawisi (Assembly Party). Whoever violates the condition of nationality will be excluded according to the law.
On 17 April 2012 Egypt's electoral commission confirmed the disqualification of 10 candidates from next month's presidential election, including two prominent Islamists and the former spy chief of ousted president Hosni Mubarak. The electoral panel rejected those appeals on Tuesday, ending the candidacies of Muslim Brotherhood chief strategist Khairat el-Shater, ulltraconservative Salafist Hazem Abu Ismail and Mubarak aide Omar Suleiman.
The most prominent candidates remaining in the race included Amr Moussa, a former foreign minister under Mubarak, and Abdel-Moneim Abolfotoh, a former member of the Brotherhood. The Islamist movement still had a back-up candidate in the presidential race - Mohammed Morsi, the head of its political party. Morsi is among 13 candidates whose bids were approved by the commission.
Some predicated that the electorate would roughly be divided among three candidates: Mursi, whose second-choice status could be offset by the group's devoted following, former Brotherhood member Abdel Moneim Aboul Fattouh, widely respected for his decades of opposition to the former government, and Moussa, who despite being part of the Mubarak team stood out for occasional streaks of independence.
Mohamed Morsi / Mohammed Mursi
On 17 April 2012 Egypt's electoral commission confirmed the disqualification of 10 candidates from next month's presidential election, ending the candidacies of Muslim Brotherhood chief strategist Khairat el-Shater. The Islamist movement still had a back-up candidate in the presidential race - Mohammed Morsi [Mohammed Mohammed Morsi Essa Al-Ayyat], Chairman of Egypt’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) — the political party of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is the largest party in the Egyptian Parliament.
By February 2011, Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak pledged in a televised address to remain in office only until the next election and after protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square turned violent. At that time, Mohamed Morsi, a leading member of the opposition Muslim Brotherhood, deniedthat if Mubarak’s government were to fall, an Iranian-type regime would come in its place. The Muslim Brotherhood spokesman sidestepped the issue by saying that members of his movement constituted only about five to ten percent of the millions of protesters in the streets and that they all shared one common goal – freedom, democracy and justice for all Egyptians. He also insisted that even an Islamic state can be “civilian” [i.e. secular] in nature. Morsi at the same time denied plans of a Muslim Brotherhood take-over saying that his movement wants freedoms to be shared between Egypt’s Muslims and Christians, women and men. “We want freedom and justice, we want free elections, and for people to [be able] to choose whomever they want to choose,” Morsi said. He said that even if the brotherhood wanted to take over, it could not, considering the young age and often secular persuasion of the majority of the protesters that have filled the streets.
The 2006 had witnessed detentions without charge or trial of hundreds of opposition activists associated with the banned Muslim Brotherhood (MB), including senior MB leaders Essam El-Erian and Mohamed Morsi, who were detained May-early December as a result of their involvement in demonstrations in support of judicial independence.
Three days after former president Hosni Mubarak stepped down from power, the Muslim Brotherhood announced plans to form a political party. "When the popular demand for the freedom to form parties is realized, the group will establish a political party," said the statement, posted on the group's website on 14 February 2011.
Abdel Moneim Abou el Fotouh
Moderate Islamist Abdel Moneim Abou el Fotouh [Abdel-Moneim Abolfotoh] announced in June 2011 that he would run for president as an independent candidate. As a result, after 30 years as a leading member he was expelled from the Muslim Brotherhood, which at that time had stated it would not run a candidate in the presidential race [a policy reversed in march 2012]. Fotouh insists that he will protect personal freedoms from restriction by hardline Islamists and guarantee equality for Christians. He has also pledged to hold the military accountable for human rights violations.
Before the fall of Mubarak, Aboul Fotouh, Second Deputy Supreme Guide Khayrat El Shatir (the third-most senior official in the MB), El Erian, and Mohamed Saad El Katatni (head of the MB's parliamentary bloc) were widely viewed as the most moderate or pragmatic leaders within the MB, who have long advocated for outreach to other Egyptian players and the West, supported the creation of an MB political party, and pushed for the increased political engagement of the group and embrace of democratic participation, rather than the MB's traditional "da'wa" (call to Islam) focus. Three high-ranking members of the MB's Guidance Bureau, including Dr. Abdel Meneim Al Fotouh, were detained for several months in 2009 while "under investigation." Fotouh was released in November 2009 and subsequently lost his seat on the MB's Guidance Bureau in December 2009 elections.
The exclusion of Fotouh from the Bureau was a sanction for his public criticism of the group and not a rejection of his views. The difference between "conservatives" and "reformers" in the group is not ideological. Instead it is their perspective, short-term vs. long-term, that determines how they set priorities and implement programs to achieve the group's goal of social, economic and political reform based on the principles of Islam. "Conservatives" were interested in the group's interests over the next twenty years. This resulted in a tendency to focus first on organizational unity. On the other hand, "reformers" like Fotouh were focused on what is happening in the next few years. They are more likely to press the group to take advantage of the current political and social environment, including forming alliances with other groups, to promote the group's interests.
On 14 February 2011 Amr Moussa, the secretary-general of the Arab League, said he will run for president in Egypt's upcoming presidential elections. In April 2012 the Wafd Party, Egypt's largest liberal party, endorsed Amr Moussa for president after its first choice Mansour Hassan withdrew from the race.
Amr Moussa is popular due to what he used to do as a foreign minister. People like him and trust him. Under Mubarak, the charismatic Arab League secretary general prudently had never indicated intention or ambition to enter into Egypt's domestic political fray, and had no Egyptian institutional political platform from which to spring. However, as the high-profile elder statesman of Arab causes, he enjoyed considerable street credibility, popularity, and perceived gravitas. Moussa's assumption of another five year term as Arab League secretary general could be alternately interpreted as keeping him "otherwise occupied" or "still in the game," with respect to future political positions, but he had never offered any hint that he intends to wade into Egypt's domestic political scene.
Ahmed Shafiq, a former Air Force commander, enjoyed the support of Egypt's powerful military. Egypt's widespread lawlessness has overshadowed daily life since the revolution that began in January 2011. It is the most prominent issue in the presidential race. Shafiq had risen in the polls by targeting a population frustrated with Egypt's turbulent transition, plagued by violent clashes, an ever-increasing wave of violent crime and an economy in disarray. Hosni Mubarak named Shafiq to the post of Prime Minister shortly after the outbreak of massive anti-government protests. Mubarak stepped down February 11, but several of his Cabinet ministers retained their posts. Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq resigned 02 March 2011.
Some candidates have gained at least a moderate following among younger voters, including Nasserist Hamdeen Sabahi. A new weekly newspaper appeared in September 2005 on Egypt's news stands, Al-Karama ("Dignity"). The newspaper is linked to opposition politician Hamdeen Sabahi, who planned to run in the November 2005 parliamentary elections under a new party, also to be called "Al-Karama." The first edition appeared on September 26, declaring war on "hereditary power in Egypt," ostensibly referring to wide- spread rumored that Gamal Mubarak will be installed as his father's successor. Several PA contacts reported that it took close to ten years for the newspaper's editors and publishers to receive government permission to publish. In addition to being anti-government and Nasserite in its opinions, the newspaper sharply criticizes U.S. policy.
On 06 january 2006, Egypt's Supreme Administrative Court denied the petitions of twelve aspiring political parties which were appealing the government's rejection of their applications to be formally licensed. Such decisions, combined with the heavy-handed approach of the government towards those opposition parties that are registered (such as al ghad), engender deep skepticism on the part of egyptian oppositionists as to the sincerity of the government's reform initiatives. In comments to the press following the ruling, hamdeen sabahi, leader of the karama party, described the court's decision as "a clear message from the regime to all egyptians -- forget about forming real political parties." He noted the "bizarre dynamic" that under the politqparty law, "the ndp has the right to select its own opposition, on its own terms."
Disqualified 17 April 2012Sheikh Hazem Abu Ismail
On 17 April 2012 Egypt's electoral commission confirmed the disqualification of 10 candidates from next month's presidential election, including Hazem Abu Ismail. Hundreds of supporters of Salafist preacher Abu Ismail held a sit-in outside the commission's headquarters to protest his disqualification from the election. The panel barred him from running by citing evidence that his mother previously held American citizenship, a violation of election rules stating that all candidates and their parents must be Egypt nationals only.
Sheikh Hazem Abu Ismail is an ultraconservative Islamist with a large following among the country’s poor. Known for his sharp political rhetoric, he has had a relatively brief history in electoral politics, a respectable career as a lawyer, and boasts a reputable status as an influential Islamic preacher. Abu-Ismail is the son of late high-profile Islamist figure Salah Abu-Ismail, who was a prominent Al-Azhar scholar, a long-standing member of parliament, and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Abu-Ismail was deeply involved in student politics, and has long been a staunch critic of US policy in the region. After the uprising, Abu-Ismail’s criticisms of the ruling Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) intensified, and he accused the generals of betraying the revolution and its demands.
Abu-Ismail enjoys vast support from Islamist currents, especially Salafists, including thousands of rank-and-file members of the powerful ultraconservative Nour Party (although the party has not officially endorsed his candidacy). Abu Ismail said he would seek to enforce gender segregation at work places, saying sex mingling at the workplace creates intimacy that Egyptian men do not accept. His rejection of Egypt’s subservient relationship with the US, and his stated intention to achieve independence from foreign interference in Egypt’s domestic affairs, resonates with a public clamouring for national pride.
Presidential hopeful Hazem Abu-Ismail was the first candidate to register for the elections with proxies from more than 30 lawmakers. Abu-Ismail applied his candidacy papers along with 50 proxies from MPs. He also submitted about 151,000 proxies from citizens. There was a lot of talk in the Egyptian media that Hazem Abu Ismail’s mother had American citizenship and that under Egyptian electoral law this would disqualify him, because both of parents are supposed to be only Egyptian nationals and nothing else. The candidate himself had talked to the election commission in Egypt, which said that it’s investigating the matter.
Khairat el Shater
On 17 April 2012 Egypt's electoral commission confirmed the disqualification of 10 candidates from next month's presidential election, including Khairat el-Shater. El-Shater reacted angrily to the rejection of his appeal, calling it proof that Egypt remains under the control of Mubarak's allies. The commission disqualified him because he had a past criminal conviction for ties to the Brotherhood, which was officially banned under the Mubarak government.
On 31 March 2012 the Muslim Brotherhood nominated chief strategist and financial backer Khairat el-Shater as its candidate for president. Secular, Christian, and other Muslim groups were quick to denounce the candidacy of the Muslim Brotherhood's Khairat el-Shater. Having a candidate of their own in the race guaranteed Brotherhood members at least some influence in what shaped up to be a wide-open election and a likely run-off. Khairat el Shater would fragment the Islamic presidential candidates list. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces cleared the legal barrier to el Shater's candidacy, his past prison record, a sign that both sides felt confident they can co-exist. Activists feared a power-sharing arrangement between the military and the Brotherhood and a return to authoritarianism, with a religious hue.
Oppressed for his political beliefs by the former government, el Shater was still able to become one of the elite by amassing a fortune in business enterprises. Shatir has been described as the key moderate figure within the MB, a "power-player" who had the ability to reach out to both sides within the organization and "bridge the gap." He was also renowned for his encouragement and support of younger MB members who were taking the group into uncharted territory - for instance, the community of active MB-affiliated bloggers, who in November 2007 posted their criticism of the draft party platform on their websites and even started a parallel web-site to the MB's official site, on which they aired criticism of the MB's more conservative leaders.
On November 23, 2005, following the MB's gains in the 2005 parliamentary elections, Shatir published an op-ed in the British newspaper "The Guardian," titled "No Need to Be Afraid of Us: The Muslim Brotherhood Believes That Democratic Reforms Could Trigger a Renaissance in Egypt." He was reportedly chastised by the security services for publishing the article. Shater was also frequently described by MB watchers as among the leaders most in touch with the sentiments and views of the MB rank-in-file, as opposed to Supreme Guide Mahdi Akef and other members of the leadership perceived as excessively pragmatic and malleable.
On 17 April 2012 Egypt's electoral commission confirmed the disqualification of 10 candidates from next month's presidential election, including Omar Suleiman. Suleiman's candidacy was rejected because he had too few voter endorsements from all of Egypt's provinces.
Long-time Mubarak consigliere Omar Suleiman (also spelled Omar Soliman, Omar Sulaiman, Omar Suleiman and seldom Umar Sulayman) announced 08 April 2012 that he had joined the race for president. Until recently, Suleiman had denied that he would run for office. But Suleiman said the decision by the Muslim Brotherhood to field a presidential candidate had "horrified" Egyptians. Suleiman would have the backing of the ruling military junta and the state media's powerful propaganda apparatuse.
Suleiman was sworn in as vice president of Egypt on Saturday, 29 January 2011. Egyptian intelligence chief and Mubarak consigliere Omar Soliman in past years was often cited as likely to be named to the long-vacant vice-presidential post. Since 2005 Soliman had stepped out of the shadows, and allowed himself to be photographed, and his meetings with foreign leaders reported. He earned international respect for his role as a mediator in Middle East affairs and for curbing Islamic extremism. Suleiman mediated the June 2008 Israel-Hamas cease fireand indirect talks between Israel and Hamas on a prisoner exchange for Israeli Cpl. Gilad Shalit, whom Hamas captured in June 2006.
Soliman, because of his military background, would at the least have to figure in any succession scenario, possibly as a transitional figure. Soliman himself adamantly denies any personal ambitions, but his interest and dedication to national service is obvious. His loyalty to Mubarak seemed rock-solid. At age 75 [in 2011], he could be attractive to the ruling apparatus and the public at large as a reliable figure unlikely to harbor ambitions for another multi-decade presidency.
It is said that Soliman "detests" the idea of Gamal as president, and that he also was "deeply personally hurt" by Mubarak, who promised to name him vice-president several years ago, but then reneged. President-for-life Hosni Mubarak resigned on 11 February 2011, and his Vice President-for-2-weeks General Omar Suleiman resigned along with him. General Suleiman had been extensively discussed as a legitimate transition leader, but he had disqualified himself by acting as little more than a shill for Mubarak Protesters did not believe that Vice President Suleiman could lead any serious transformation they are demanding.
On 14 January 2012 Egyptian opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei announced he was withdrawing from the presidential race, saying democracy had yet to take hold in the country. ElBaradei said his conscience will not allow him to run for the presidency or any other official position unless it is within a democratic framework. He said he felt the previous regime of ousted President Hosni Mubarak is still running the country. Mohammed ElBaradei is a well-known figure because of his long-career abroad with the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna until 2009. The Nobel Peace laureate and former Egyptian diplomat gained international attention as a vocal critic of Mr. Mubarak and his government. ElBaradei had said he hoped to plant the seeds of democratic reform in Egypt, amid a climate of corruption and stagnation.
An enthusiastic crowd met him at Cairo airport as he returned home February 22, 2010 after a long absence. ElBaradei then met with Arab League head Amr Moussa in Cairo, apparently to discuss his political future. It was then widely rumored that ElBaradei hopes to run for president of Egypt in 2011. ElBaradei founded the nonpartisan movement National Association for Change, and had offered to lead a transitional administration in Egypt if Mubarak stepped down. The former head of the United Nations nuclear monitoring agency returned to the Egyptian capital, Cairo, from Vienna in time to join massive protests 28 January 2011. Media reports said Egyptian authorities fired water cannons at ElBaradei and temporarily prevented him from leaving a mosque where he had taken shelter. Several prominent newspaper editors who belonged to Mubarak's ruling National Democratic Party say ElBaradei cannot or should not run for president of Egypt, because he is "out of touch" after living abroad so long, and also because he holds a foreign passport.
Not in the RunningMilitary Officer
Currently, there is no obvious contender from among the officer corps, Egypt's traditional presidential recruitment grounds. Minister of defense Tantawi, a contemporary of Mubarak's, appears to harbor no political ambitions. In the event of a national leadership crisis, it is near inconceivable, given Mubarak's personal manipulation of the office corps, that another military officer could emerge from obscurity to assert himself as a candidate. But Tantawi and his senior coterie are not necessarily popular at mid and lower ranks, so the possibility of a mid-20th century style coup of colonels cannot be entirely discounted.
Of the 10 presidential contenders in 2005, second-place al-Ghad party leader Ayman Nour served a jail term on corruption charges. The government released him in 2009 under pressure from the United States and other members of the international community. According to Egyptian law, will be banned from participating in Egyptian political life for several years following his release. The third-place finisher, al-Wafd party candidate No'man Gomaa, lost his party position following a violent and scandal-ridden leadership struggle. The other eight candidates, marginal figures to begin with, have faded back into total obscurity. Current al-Wafd leader Mahmoud Abaza is a talented politician, but at this point, does not appear to have national appeal or organizational capacity to mount a serious attempt at the presidency.
Dark Horse and Also Rans
Popular reformist minister of trade Rachid was a potential candidate, though a distinct dark horse. Nonetheless, he comes from an old and respected family and is seen by many as largely responsible for Egypt's impressive economic growth of the past years. Safwat Elsherif (NDP secretary general and Shura Council speaker), Mufeed Shehab (minister of state for legal and parliamentary affairs), and Zakaria Azmy (Mubarak's de facto chief of staff) all, as senior leades of the NDP, met the constitutional criteria to run for office. None of these grizzled NDP veterans have publicly expressed presidential aspirations, nor did they appear to possess any capabilities to govern, nor personal constituencies. However, while unlikely, it was possible that, once Mubarak pere was out of the picture, one of them could emerge in an anti-Gamal party putsch. Furthermore, most believed that any governor pushing for the presidency is a far-fetched possibility - the overwhelming majority of governors were former senior military and police officers chosen for their loyalty, far from the critical political fray in Cairo, and with no power bases.
His father's resignation ended the political career of Gamal Mubarak. Cairene conventional wisdom held that Gamal wanted the job, despite his repeated denials to the contrary. Many in the Egyptian elite saw Gamal Mubarak's succession as positive, as his likely continuation of the status quo would serve their business and political interests. Given the legal requirements for candidacy, and weak opposition leadership, there were few other Egyptian personalities with the national stature and political capital to seriously contend for the presidency. Likewise, due to the paranoia of the Egyptian dictatorship, no other name could safely or respectfully be bruited as a contender. While the president's son was vulnerable to open criticism for his presumed ambition, he was the only person in Egypt whose total loyalty to Hosni Mubarak was also taken for granted, so his was the only name that could possibly be bandied about. Although there was widespread popular animus against a Gamal candidacy, with many Egyptians opining proudly that, "we are not Syria or Saudi!", the NDP machinery could likely stage an electoral victory, based on poor voter turnout, sloppy voter lists, and state control of the election apparatus.
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